What evidence would be enough?

309


Discussion by: Chipmunk
Before I start, I would like to say that I think that most of what Dr. Dawkins thinks about religion makes very good sense. I understand and agree with the idea of not believing in what there is no evidence to support.  I am however curious, when it comes to the existence of god, what evidence, if found, would be sufficient to convince you that such a being does, in reality, exist? Because if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.

309 COMMENTS

  1. Is this a joke? You really think rejecting the suggestion that a supernatural, all-powerful being exists, for which there is no evidence, whatsoever is illogical? What reason would be sufficient for you? Do you understand why the burden of proof lies with the theists?

  2. If Jesus where to come to me right now my first thought wouldn’t be god, but super advanced alien. I’ve seen too many episodes of Star Trek to fall for “god”.

    But seriously, you said “if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group” I think you are getting at the diference between athiest/agnostic. Just like Richard Dawkins, I use therm atheist causually, but would really call my self an agnostic because you can’t really prove a negitive. Try proving there is no Easter bunny, tooth fairy, or Santa Clause. Actually, their is much more evidence for Santa Clause than for God: St. Nick was a real person, the north pole exists, raindeer are real(try proving they can’t fly). So, are you being any more logical than a child for rejecting Santa Clasue? Yes, it is not logical to just reject every proposition, but when you balance the claims of a god against everything else you know about the nature then there is ground to have serious doubt.

    To answer your original question, if god were truely as powerful and omniscient as it is said to be then it would know what evidence would be enough for me.

  3. what evidence, if found, would be sufficient to convince you that such a being does, in reality, exist?

    Which “a being”? Chipmunk, this is getting frustrating. You abandoned all the obvious questions on the old thread Is Evidence All That Matters? and hit the reset button to start this one.

    I hope this doesn’t sound rude but WTF are you talking about?

    Why keep asking what evidence others would accept for something that is not defined? Or worse, something that is not defined except that it has the characteristic that it is beyond evidence? ( Worst definition ever by the way, in case that’s what your question is based on.)

    Because if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.

    Explain how not accepting claims without evidence is no more logical than accepting claims without evidence.

    To be fair, this is a good discussion title. It will probably make a good thread. So, that might be your motivation, not necessarily the impulse to hit the reset button. I should probably give you the benefit of the doubt.

    The rest of my response still stands.

    I’ll ask again. Which “a being”?

  4. In reply to #3 by susanlatimer:
    Chipmunk, this is getting frustrating. You abandoned all the obvious questions on the old thread Is Evidence All That Matters? and hit the reset button to start this one.
    To be fair, this is a good discussion title. It will probably make a good thread. So, that might be your motivation, not necessarily the impulse to hit the reset button. I should probably give you the benefit of the doubt.

    Just for the record, I submitted this a long time before I made any of my other posts. It just took a while to get approved and published. I appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt. However, nobody seems to want to give me a straight answer. I am genuinely curious. I don’t know what the evidence would be and I agree that the definition of god that we use will alter the evidence needed. It is fine with me if you provide any definition of god that you would like before stating the evidence it would take to convince you that such a being exists.

  5. @chipmunk # 4

    Just for the record, I submitted this a long time before I made any of my other posts. It just took a while to get approved and published. I appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt.

    I’m glad I did. It’s a good discussion topic. A topic that needs to be met head on.

    However, nobody seems to want to give me a straight answer.

    You haven’t given a straight question yet.

    It is fine with me if you provide any definition of god that you would like before stating the evidence it would take to convince you that such a being exists.

    It doesn’t work that way. You have a claim with specific characteristics that you would like to call a “god”. You might as well call it “x”. You are asking what evidence would falsify or further support that claim. But you are failing to define the claim.

    It doesn’t help the discussion to say, “Provide any definition you’d like for my claim and tell me what evidence it would take to convince you that it exists.” If anyone tried to start a discussion about anything other than a “god” on those terms, wouldn’t your reaction be WTF? What’s so magical about that word? It’s certainly not useful to any argument.

  6. Let us take an example from Physics. Physicists for 200 years (?) or so believed that light was a wave. They had serious experimental backing for that theory. If you go back to 1850 and ask someone what will it take to falsify the Wave Theory of Light, you would have gotten a blank stare. No one would have jumped and said “Duh! Photoelectric Effect!” Secondly, when people did finally discover Photoelectric Effect, the entire Wave Theory did not come crashing down overnight just based on this experimental fact. The challenge was thrown open to come up with a better theory that would explain why wave theory worked brilliantly for so long and also account for the new anomaly found. The resulting Quantum Mechanics did just that – it showed why Huygens and co were not idiots to use wave equations when it came to light; it just gave a new and better interpretation of what “wave” meant in this context. Also, in science we only know what is not true for certain. We don’t know what is true with 100% certainty. Heliocentric theory is the best theory we have till something better comes along whereas we know for sure that Phlogiston Theory is moonshine.

    So where am I going with this? Firstly, to figure out what it takes to falsify an established theory is hard enough. We cannot say what it takes to prove a failed hypothesis to be true. Secondly, it not just evidence that will “prove” something to be “true”. What makes a hypothesis (like the god hypothesis) to be anywhere close to a theory (as strong as the Theory of Relativity/Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection) is only by rigourous scientific argument and/or equations, peer reviewed papers, mountains of evidence, a way to make predictions based on the theory and testing the outcomes and a way to falsify the theory. Thirdly, in order to show something to be true, that something (at the very least!) needs a rigourous scientific definition.

    For example, if I see a 500 m tall ganesh tomorrow and no one else sees it, it just means I need to see a shrink. If I see the 500m tall ganesh and everyone else sees it, then it is an open challenge to Randi to conjure it up himself. If that very same 500m tall ganesh stays on for long enough to do experiments on it and someone comes up with a hypothesis that ganesh is true and can travel on a mouse and proves it using experiments and/or maths and many multitude of predictions based on that hypothesis turn out to be true, then we can start saying that theory that ganesh is a 500m “being” that can travel on a mouse is probably true. Note that it still does not prove god as we have no idea what the heck “god” means.

  7. There’s an infinite number of things that might exist, or could be proposed to exist, for which there is no evidence. And an infinite number of those things would be contradictory: such as different gods that are proposed to be the one and only god. So the proposals are simply not interesting unless there is evidence or a good logical theory to support them.

  8. Because if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.

    That’s not true. Some hypotheses just can’t be supported by any evidence. What evidence could support the claim there’s an undetectable goblin on my shoulder? By definition, none. Existence claims should only be believed if evidence supports them, even if that condition is unsatisfiable. Not believing such things is not only logical; it is compulsory if you want to be called logical.

  9. There are really two questions: “what evidence is necessary and sufficient to convince you?” and “what evidence is necessary and sufficient to convince Dawkins?” If you don’t care whether you convince him, then to hell with what he thinks. If you do care, then you’ve got to meet his standard of proof. Whose standard of proof you apply may or may not lead to the ultimate Truth.

    His standard is based on the scientific method and rationalism and I daresay, a belief or faith that science will ultimately fill in all the gaps that the “god of the gaps” is squeezing through. That’s a fine idea and very likely according to Bayesian probability but since it hasn’t actually been done there remains a finite chance it can’t be done. In mathematics, it takes only one counterexample to disprove a theorem.

    In a way, the more the believers in a god throw in bigger heaps of nonsense and bullshit, and the more they insist on rebutting scientific evidence, the bigger a target they create, the easier it is to hit it and discredit it in the eyes of anyone with an open mind. They would be better off to settle for deism and leave it to Dawkins to evolve enough fingers or long enough arms to plug the holes in the scientific dam. 😉

    Of course if they did that and dispensed with all the rest of the baggage, Richard would probably be fairly content.

  10. Before we go on, you really should make it clear which god you are talking about. Is it Zeus, Allah, The Flying Spaghetti Monster or The Snake Goddess? Or some god we don’t know about yet?

    1. What evidence would be enough to convince me of god’s existence?

    2. What evidence would be enough for anchovies that stopped playing piano without a generator?

    Try asking asking question 2 in a faith forum and see how far you’ll get. My guess, about as far as you’ll get here with question 1. In other words, I dispute the assumption that your question is necessarily even a sensible one.

    And besides, the cart is before the horse here.

    Fear, comfort, and cognitive mistakes drive the enterprises of the archetypal faiths, not evidence born by thinking critically.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but from my point of view, you need to establish why all the reasons for humanity’s penchant for god-construction, as explained by today’s social scientists and members of this forum, are not sufficient.

    Mike

  11. I’ll take on the unwritten insinuation in your question – what evidence would prove (or at least support) the existence of the Christian god of the bible?

    I think there are several parts to this question, all of which would have to be proved before the Christian god hypothesis could be supported.

    First, there would need to be proof for the existence of an intelligent deity. The current support for this from deists is that we do not have a robust and conclusive theory to explain the origin of life on this planet, and that we cannot explain what caused the creation of the universe. So, finding conclusive evidence of a creator’s hand in these two processes would support the diest theory (although as has been pointed out by Dawkins among others, it would raise further questions about where this deity came from itself). I have no ideas what form this proof could take.

    Secondly, evidence would need to be provided that links this deity with actions it is said to have performed in the bible. Now, the difficulty with this is that for the actions of the god of the bible to be true, much of what we know of the earth, life on earth and the wider universe would have to be proved false. I.e., the age of the earth, the process of evolution of life, the reality of various impossible phenomena…etc.

    So what if such a deity manifested itself but no link could be made between its existence and its claimed actions on the past? Rather than proving the Christian hypothesis, it would cast it into more severe doubt.

    And to be slightly flippant, I think if such a thing happened I’d be more likely to believe it was the work of aliens than any sort of diety. Or that I’d lost my mind. I think I’d rather that than have to deal with the god of the bible.

  12. I am however curious, when it comes to the existence of god, what evidence, if found, would be sufficient to convince you that such a being does, in reality, exist?

    Until a defined god entity has clearly defined properties and specific detailed claims for any interactions with the physical universe, it is just a vague meaningless word.

    I am however curious, when it comes to the existence of xzywackliffnok, what evidence, if found, would be sufficient to convince you that such a being does, in reality, exist?

  13. Which God in particular, or what aspect of it? His Nebulous Holiness? Or something a bit more concrete that we can actually define and measure.

  14. In reply to #4 by Chipmunk:

    I am genuinely curious. I don’t know what the evidence would be and I agree that the definition of god that we use will alter the evidence needed.

    I’ve already said…there is NO evidence for a god…end of. Whatever definition of a god that is presented, it will fall into one of two categories…supernatural or natural…the former is impossible to prove using empiricism, it is not falsifiable, the later can be tested by science which negates the label of ‘god’ in the sense you are searching.

    Again…I will link to an article by someone more articulate than I, please read it…

    “There can be no evidence for God (revisited)

    “Yahweh in particular has a considerable set of unprovable attributes: omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, infinitude, being beyond time and space, being a necessary origin of things, and so on. None of these attributes could ever be shown to be true using science. Not because science is flawed, but because none of these attributes could ever be shown to be true using any test against reality. How do you measure omnibenevolence, for example?”

    It is fine with me if you provide any definition of god that you would like before stating the evidence it would take to convince you that such a being exists.

    It’s not fine, it’s your discussion thread, how can anyone else posit definitions.

    Let me help.

    Definition: Supernatural god = omniscient immaterial mind outside space and time = no evidence for such is possible.

    Definition: Natural god = the Universe, the weather, etc. = not really a god so evidence irrelevant.

    Ya see, it doesn’t help, does it?

  15. In reply to #16 by Ignorant Amos:

    I’ve already said…there is NO evidence for a god…end of. Whatever definition of a god that is presented, it will fall into one of two categories…supernatural or natural…the former is impossible to prove using empiricism, it is not falsifiable, the later can be tested by science which negates the label of ‘god’ in the sense you are searching.

    I can appreciate the point that, if “god” was by necessity a supernatural thing, then it is ruled out as being provable because it and the universe would be separated in two closed systems independent of each other. If a god is supposed to be an interactionist sort, even if it was as the deistic kind of god that got this universe going in the first place, then if a god can be a natural phenomenon, I don’t see any problem in treating it as such, and think Chipmunk has asked a fair question.

    If a god is supposed to be omniscient, then a first bumper step would be to test its knowledge as thoroughly as possible and see if it ever gets an answer wrong. The first counterexample or failure to respond would immediately disprove this attribute, and any predictions of scientific advances made by such a being would provide strong evidence. The more specific and less bland the prediction, and a 100% success rate of a huge population of predictions, would at least provide good grounds for claims to omniscience.

    A claim of benevolence or omnipotence, on the other hand, would be immediately disproved by what we already know prior to now. If the world so far had been hunky dory, with no zerosum contests and no suffering or death – the hypothetical best of all possible worlds – then I don’t see a problem in attributing benevolence to a deity. The fact that we’ve discovered, both through science and through personal observation, that the world is brimming with terrors, disasters, and cruelties, contradicts the expectations of that idea, however, and so we can discard it.

    If a deity is omnipotent, then one way to test it would be to ask the deity to perform feats that cannot be dismissed as coincidences, correlations, or deceptions caused by others. If, for instance, it was asked to move the stars into a long text in the sky, and astronomers on the dark side of the planet reported this precisely happening, we could at least provisionally accept omnipotence. A failure to fulfil these criteria would rule out the hypothesis until future evidence came in.

    As for actually proving independently the existence of a larger consciousness – since the tests so far do not by themselves prove such a thing – I suppose it wouldn’t be much different from testing the presence of consciousness in another human being or animal. It would behave in ways that can’t be predicted with a naive application of physics, as in Dawkins’ example of the predictions of throwing a rock and throwing a bird. If, for instance, it set about moving matter around without prompting from researchers – say, to build a city out of sand without human help, or to play some complex game with bits of rock – then that would rule out possibilities of coincidence.

    None of these things are conclusive on their own, and could just as well be taken as evidence of super-advanced aliens or of evolved terrestrial organisms with previously unheard-of physical powers. I’d be quite happy to use them as a provisional benchmark for those definitions of god that can be falsified or that rely on regular interactions with the world.

    Of course people say god is “outside space and time” and so on, but I think it’s pretty clear such things are tacked on as insurance against skeptics. The same people will likely posit some interventionist deity when their guard’s down, and certainly more people believe in interventionist gods than in deistic ones. These benchmarks are just “first step” tests for specific versions of the god hypothesis, and other versions fall under the very real problems you outline. My point is that, if there is a real-world phenomenon which people refer to when they describe a god, then such phenomena are where scientists should focus.

    Lastly, I think it goes without saying that worshipping such a being has no real basis other than if the being threatened people if they didn’t. Even if such a being was an “authority” on ethics, then it would have to prove as such the same way any person would have to prove their expertise in any subject – their positions would have to stand on their own merits, and their claims cannot be blindly taken at face value – so the Euthyphro dilemma and the Epicurean charge still stand. The word god carries evaluative and ethical connotations, but neither strike me as being worth giving the time of day. So my conclusion is, even if this kind of god could be proven to exist, most of the believers are doing it wrong anyway.

  16. I would reconsider my non-belief if presented with clear, rigorous evidence for any of these: effectiveness of prayer, supernatural miracles, information in scripture that an ancient society couldn’t have known, clear signs of purpose or teleological design in the makeup of the universe. I would assume I was hallucinating if presented with some kind of personal revelation.

  17. ANY!!!… I don’t know, maybe even an itsy bitsy?

    You’re either postulating an entity that interacts with the universe in some detectable way (which would generate all the evidence anybody could possibly require to believe.)

    Or you’re postulating an entity that doesn’t. (which by definition would generate all the evidence anybody could possibly require to NOT believe.)

    There really is no way to go any further with this conversation than that….

  18. I think that the kind of evidence that would be needed depends on exactly how the god is defined. However, to take the example of the Christian god, this is often described in a way that is de facto unprovable.

    For instance, god is said to be omniscient. If god appeared in a regal flash of light, and then presented a list of everything he knows, that might look like a very complete and impressive list. However, unless you yourself do actually know everything, then you are not in a position to check whether there is anything missing from the list.

    The same goes for omnipresence – unless you yourself are in every place in the universe, you can’t check whether god is everywhere or not.

    So at least for the Christian god, god is defined in a way that does seem to make proof actually impossible.

  19. as i’ve said on simliar threads. lets start with a scientific definition. until you have that there is no evidence and no possible evidence

    as for this

    Because if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.

    you have a lttle catching up to do

  20. Some very very good points being made so this post was not a wast of time.

    However you can’t get away from the fallacy in your question; that it it is illogical to reject something that can’t be proved.

    If you can’t see the problem with this I think you would be better suited getting a book on logical thinking before asking questions such as this.

    Under this “logic” we can’t reject faeries living at the bottom of the garden or aliens living inside a hollow earth. You are clearly mistaking absolute certainty with balance of probability.

  21. I’m disappointed by all the condescending comments on this thread. I see Chipmunk’s point that nobody seems to want to give him a straight answer. It’s not a difficult question. Here’s my answer…

    Proving that God (and specifically the Christian god Jehovah) exists is not difficult at all. ANY ONE of the following would pretty much prove it for me…

    Example: Scientists finding the words “Jehovah is LORD” written throughout our DNA.

    Example: Once every 100 years a loud voice comes out of the heavens proclaiming that Jehovah is LORD.

    Example: Bible having some scientific knowledge that just wasn’t deducible at the time of writing, such as…

    1) The number of planets in the solar system.

    2) The exact age of the Earth and Universe.

    3) Descriptions of atoms and molecules.

    4) A description of WHY the Earth is round (not just that it’s round, which was pretty easily deducible at the time).

    Contrast these with the existing weak claims of “proof” in the Bible. The Jewish knowledge of preventing the spread of communicable disease was also easily deducible at the time…there’s nothing to suggest that knowledge was given by God. And don’t even get me started on claims like that without the Bible, humans wouldn’t know that murder is wrong.

    I’m sure God could come up with even better examples than mine. He is God after all. Claims that “maybe we haven’t found such proof” don’t cut it either, because God could have been providing more relevant proof as human knowledge progressed.

    The fact that he hasn’t provided any such proof tells me…
    1) He doesn’t exist.
    2) He wants you to believe he doesn’t exist.

    The fact that the bible does not contain any knowledge that could not have been deduced at the time tells me that it is not inspired of God. And without the Bible, there is no proof of Jehovah at all.

  22. In reply to #17 by Zeuglodon:

    If a god is supposed to be an interactionist sort, even if it was as the deistic kind of god that got this universe going in the first place, then if a god can be a natural phenomenon, I don’t see any problem in treating it as such, and think Chipmunk has asked a fair question.

    That puts us back on the importance of definitions then. A natural phenomena has at least the possibility of being tested by the method. If it can be tested by the method, then whatever it is, it isn’t ‘god’. Some people might say, “the big bang is god”, but that is just giving a special name to an already existing concept, like Susan’s ‘x’, hence the need for definitive attributes IMO.

    That all said, my point is, and you as you have pointed out, the supernatural is a none starter and the natural can be explained by an infinite number of hypothesis before I’m letting the term ‘god’ onto the page. Aliens from another galaxy, Aliens from another universe, I’m a brain in a jar and being messed with in a lab, I’m part of a giant computer game of the Sims, the list goes on…I’m invoking Hume on the supernatural, “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact which it endeavours to establish.”, and Ptolemy on the most probable being the simpler explanation, “We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible.” I’ll also play the infinite regress card too for good measure.

    If a god is supposed to be omniscient, then a first bumper step would be to test its knowledge as thoroughly as possible and see if it ever gets an answer wrong.

    Only another omniscient being would be in a position to do the test and how long would such a test take?

    The first counterexample or failure to respond would immediately disprove this attribute, and any predictions of scientific advances made by such a being would provide strong evidence. The more specific and less bland the prediction, and a 100% success rate of a huge population of predictions, would at least provide good grounds for claims to omniscience.

    Any intelligence greater than the sum of that of mankind would past muster, but it wouldn’t need to be omniscient. Even someone from the modern world uncovering a lost tribe in the Amazon might fit the bill of a god, but they wouldn’t be. As has been mentioned in the other discussion, Cargo Cults.

    A claim of benevolence or omnipotence, on the other hand, would be immediately disproved by what we already know prior to now. If the world so far had been hunky dory, with no zerosum contests and no suffering or death – the hypothetical best of all possible worlds – then I don’t see a problem in attributing benevolence to a deity. The fact that we’ve discovered, both through science and through personal observation, that the world is brimming with terrors, disasters, and cruelties, contradicts the expectations of that idea, however, and so we can discard it.

    The apologist counters this with Theodicy though. The old ‘free will’ canard. Logic prevails…

    1 God is all-powerful and all-knowing.
    2 God is perfectly good.
    3 There is evil in the world.

    If a deity is omnipotent, then one way to test it would be to ask the deity to perform feats that cannot be dismissed as coincidences, correlations, or deceptions caused by others. If, for instance, it was asked to move the stars into a long text in the sky, and astronomers on the dark side of the planet reported this precisely happening, we could at least provisionally accept omnipotence. A failure to fulfil these criteria would rule out the hypothesis until future evidence came in.

    We could provisionally accept that the entity can move the stars, nothing further…hypothetically. The philosophical “omnipotence paradox” springs to mind.

    “Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even the being could not lift it?” If the being could lift the rock, then it seems that the being could cease to be omnipotent, as the rock was not heavy enough; if the being could not, it seems that the being was not omnipotent to begin with.

    But yet again, this all depends on ones definition of ‘omnipotance’.

    As for actually proving independently the existence of a larger consciousness – since the tests so far do not by themselves prove such a thing – I suppose it wouldn’t be much different from testing the presence of consciousness in another human being or animal.

    The problem for me is where would ya go to test such a consciousness. Consciousness’ require brains.

    It would behave in ways that can’t be predicted with a naive application of physics, as in Dawkins’ example of the predictions of throwing a rock and throwing a bird. If, for instance, it set about moving matter around without prompting from researchers – say, to build a city out of sand without human help, or to play some complex game with bits of rock – then that would rule out possibilities of coincidence.

    Rock, bird or brain, ya need the material thing ahead of time in order to carry out tests. Chipmunk hasn’t provided the basis of a definition, where would one begin to test such a thing…hence the issue with trying to test an immaterial mind.

    None of these things are conclusive on their own, and could just as well be taken as evidence of super-advanced aliens or of evolved terrestrial organisms with previously unheard-of physical powers. I’d be quite happy to use them as a provisional benchmark for those definitions of god that can be falsified or that rely on regular interactions with the world.

    Sorry, but if the stars rearranged in the sky to read “made by god” a more ready explanation would be that I’d lost the plot and any amount of folk telling me different would be put down to paranoia and a conspiracy…”I thought that tea tasted funny”.

    Of course people say god is “outside space and time” and so on, but I think it’s pretty clear such things are tacked on as insurance against skeptics.The same people will likely posit some interventionist deity when their guard’s down, and certainly more people believe in interventionist gods than in deistic ones. These benchmarks are just “first step” tests for specific versions of the god hypothesis, and other versions fall under the very real problems you outline. My point is that, if there is a real-world phenomenon which people refer to when they describe a god, then such phenomena are where scientists should focus.

    Yes, the cleverer apologist posits that argument. WLC states that as mere mortals and part of the creation, we can never know the mind of God, hence his defence of all the evil in the not-so-good-book. There is no countenance’s to such bollocks.

    Lastly, I think it goes without saying that worshipping such a being has no real basis other than if the being threatened people if they didn’t. Even if such a being was an “authority” on ethics, then it would have to prove as such the same way any person would have to prove their expertise in any subject – their positions would have to stand on their own merits, and their claims cannot be blindly taken at face value – so the Euthyphro dilemma and the Epicurean charge still stand.

    “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

    The argument from evil.

    WLC’s divine command theory. This causes difficulties for the omnipotence charge.

    I’m reminded of an essay in “50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists”, a can’t mind the title and a haven’t got my copy to hand, but basically it suggests that the good god hailed by the Abrahamic faith could just as easily be described, even more sincerely judging by the scriptures, as an evil god. The good die young, the evil ones among humanity not so much.

    “Is what is morally evil commanded by God because it is morally evil, or is it morally evil because it is commanded by God?”

    The word god carries evaluative and ethical connotations, but neither strike me as being worth giving the time of day. So my conclusion is, even if this kind of god could be proven to exist, most of the believers are doing it wrong anyway.

    Here’s what Ophelia Benson says…

    “One compelling reason not to believe the standard-issue God exists is
    the conspicuous fact that no one knows anything at all about it. That’s
    a tacit part of the definition of God – a supernatural being that no one
    knows anything about. The claims that are made about God bear no
    resemblance to genuine knowledge. This becomes immediately apparent if you try adding details to God’s CV: God is the eternal omnipotent benevolent omniscient creator of the universe, and has blue eyes.
    You see how it works. Eternal omnipotent benevolent omniscient are
    all simply ideal characteristics that a God ought to have; blue eyes, on
    the other hand, are particular, and if you say God has them it suddenly
    becomes obvious that no one knows that, and by implication that no
    one knows anything else either.
    We don’t know God has blue eyes – we don’t know God has red
    hair – we don’t know God plays basketball – we don’t know God drinks
    coffee. We have no clue. But then, how do we “know” God is omnipotent, or eternal? We don’t. It’s just that the monotheist God is supposed
    to have certain attributes that make it a significant grown-up sophisticated God, better than the frivolous or greedy or quarrelsome gods
    like Kali or Loki or Athena. (Oddly, this does leave room for one
    particular: we do “know” that God is male. God is more ideal and
    abstract and generalized than Aphrodite and Freyja and he’s also not
    that particular, earthy, blue-eyed, coffee-drinking sex, he’s that other,
    general, abstract sex: the male.) We don’t know that God is omnipotent, we simply assume that anyone called God has to be omnipotent, because that’s part of the definition, and we know that God is called
    God, so therefore God must be omnipotent. That’s a fairly shaky kind
    of knowledge. It also provides hours of entertainment when we ask
    ourselves if God has the power to make a grapefruit that is too heavy
    for God to lift”

    Lack of definition makes the whole thing like carrying water in a sieve. BTW, she predicted the Pope would have doubts along the lines of Mother Theresa back in 2011.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment, it has definitely stimulated my thinking.

  23. “What evidence would be enough?”

    A good start would be a coherent, rational explanation of what exactly ‘supernatural-stuff’ is and how that human knows. To date the best explanation supernatural enthusiasts have produced; it’s super, no way natural and ‘beyond human understanding’.

    Obviously.

  24. Quickest answer I can give is this:

    If God is omnipotent, omniscient etc etc, then why are we not all born (conceived) to be aware of his existence. Why would such ‘a being’ leave the knowledge of his existence to the fallible testimony of humans? Not terribly omnipotent and in fact makes ‘God’ appear exactly what he/it/she is – man-made!

  25. In reply to #28 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #17 by Zeuglodon:

    That puts us back on the importance of definitions then. A natural phenomena has at least the possibility of being tested by the method. If it can be tested by the method, then whatever it is, it isn’t ‘god’. Some people might say, “the big bang is god”, but that is just giving a special name to an already existing concept, like Susan’s ‘x’, hence the need for definitive attributes IMO.

    You’re right, of course, but being supernatural or natural is a question of where and when this thing is located. Supernatural deistic gods cannot be seen at all by an observer, and even one which poked its nose into universe, so to speak, wouldn’t be amenable to deductive logic, but would have to be proven by induction. But if you allow that a natural god exists, even if only for the sake of argument, then the question of evidence could at least be tackled. The god of the bible, for instance, is screamingly, obviously a natural god because his existence could be decided by historical and scientific analysis and by everyday observation (provided, of course, that he was still around). The fact that the relevant passages of the bible contradict modern science, historical evidence elsewhere, and even other passages of the bible, is why we discard it as evidence in the first place.

    That all said, my point is, and you as you have pointed out, the supernatural is a none starter and the natural can be explained by an infinite number of hypothesis before I’m letting the term ‘god’ onto the page. Aliens from another galaxy, Aliens from another universe, I’m a brain in a jar and being messed with in a lab, I’m part of a giant computer game of the Sims, the list goes on…

    Yes, I appreciate that, but god is usually defined as some sort of consciousness. Given what we know about consciousness in humans and animals, I don’t think it’s too generous to suggest that it’s existence couldn’t be worked out inductively, provided, however, that the predictions differ from how the world would work if such a consciousness didn’t exist. To paraphrase Dawkins, a world in which a god exists would be different from one in which it didn’t, and if this is true, then the existence of such differences would be helpful.

    I’m invoking Hume on the supernatural, “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact which it endeavours to establish.”, and Ptolemy on the most probable being the simpler explanation, “We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible.” I’ll also play the infinite regress card too for good measure.

    Well, I’d put Ptolemy’s point and the infinite regress card under the more general principle of Ockham’s razor, since both rely on not adding complications which the data can’t justify. Ockham’s razor is specifically about what we can know to be true as opposed to what might really be true. It’s perfectly possible that, say, an omniscient computer could exist that knows what it knows what it knows, etc., given an infinite cosmos (I’m using this term to cover multiple universes, multiverses, and basically everything possible). The problem is that everything we know in science makes it impossible at present to prove that all of the necessary preconditions exist, never mind to prove that such a computer exists, which is justification enough for calling out anyone who claims otherwise because they’re claiming knowledge they don’t have.

    Only another omniscient being would be in a position to do the test and how long would such a test take?

    I don’t mean that the test would prove such a thing existed. It’s merely that the claim would be instantly disproved by a wrong answer. As for how long the test would take, I don’t know. There might be a statistical sense in which we would accept, if only for pragmatic reasons, that it could get a 100% of 1,000,000 questions right before we give it the benefit of the doubt, but you’re right in saying that this doesn’t prove omniscience conclusively. It would at least prove that the interviewed subject was incredibly smart.

    Any intelligence greater than the sum of that of mankind would past muster, but it wouldn’t need to be omniscient. Even someone from the modern world uncovering a lost tribe in the Amazon might fit the bill of a god, but they wouldn’t be. As has been mentioned in the other discussion, Cargo Cults.

    Yes, I can’t see a way around the problem either. I can only say that I’d be happy if the “omni-” attributes weren’t taken literally, but simply treated as a lofty way of saying god is really smart, really powerful, really nice, and so on. In a similar way, we could tentatively suggest that spacetime is flat and infinite, knowing full well that we don’t have all the facts, couldn’t have all the facts, and would be immediately disproved if curvature was discovered. Anyone trying to prove omni-whatever would have to water down their claim before evidence was even possible, so perhaps it’s OK to take the water-downed version instead?

    The apologist counters this with Theodicy though. The old ‘free will’ canard. Logic prevails…

    1 God is all-powerful and all-knowing.
    2 God is perfectly good.
    3 There is evil in the world.

    Theodicy is contradicted before it even begins, because there’s no way to argue unpleasantness out of existence if it’s already happened. Even if it was all a simulation in my head and no one really died or suffered, I sure as heck have burnt my fingers a few times, so to speak, and a theodicist would still be disproved by the unpleasant effects of this simulation on my consciousness.

    As for free will, that is for another discussion, but personally I think it’s another concept that lost before it even began the debate because it relies by definition on ignorance of how decision-making actually works.

    We could provisionally accept that the entity can move the stars, nothing further…

    Yup, although the more diverse the range of things it’s asked to do, I think the more acceptable it would be to say that the thing was “really, really powerful”. Still not conclusive proof of omnipotence, but at least compatible with it, if that can count as any kind of good evidence.

    The philosophical “omnipotence paradox” springs to mind. “Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even the being could not lift it?” If the being could lift the rock, then it seems that the being could cease to be omnipotent, as the rock was not heavy enough; if the being could not, it seems that the being was not omnipotent to begin with.

    I think this is a modal fallacy of some kind. I’m not entirely sure of the counter to your point myself, but: if the being made the rock, then so long as he didn’t actually try to lift it, there would be no paradox. This is a bit like the pre-determined time travel idea: a being in the past could causally effect the future, but so long as his effect doesn’t become a cause of his going back in time or otherwise negate what actually happens in the future, then time travel isn’t stuck in an infinite loop or rife with contradictions.

    Those links are to this website by Norman Schwartz. I hadn’t heard of him before I found this site, and I still get the impression there’s something wrong with this guy’s counter, but I’m not sure what it is. What do you think?

    But yet again, this all depends on ones definition of ‘omnipotance’.

    Agreed.

    The problem for me is where would ya go to test such a consciousness. Consciousness’ require brains.

    Well, more specifically, consciousness requires a mechanism. Even if it was proven that brains weren’t the site of consciousness but merely a parallel system to it (and I certainly am not going to believe or make that case), then we’d still be left with the question of what makes consciousness work.

    Say, for instance, the dualists have a point and consciousness is some kind of extra property extruding into, say, a fifth dimension. The existence of this dimension would have to be proved by mathematicians and physicists, and the existence of the mechanism within the dimension likewise would have to be proved, but let’s assume for the moment that they have been. One reply to your argument might be that, if we discovered that there was a massive system here which produced all the effects that might otherwise look like the work of some invisible superhuman, we could at least agree that this might be what would best explain religious people’s alleged experiences with god.

    I’m thinking of the parable of the square and the sphere in flatland. Yes, this doesn’t really counter your point, but for Chipmunk, I guess he’d be satisfied that this might be a legitimate way of getting at some versions of the “god” hypothesis.

    Rock, bird or brain, ya need the material thing ahead of time in order to carry out tests. Chipmunk hasn’t provided the basis of a definition, where would one begin to test such a thing…hence the issue with trying to test an immaterial mind.

    Well, I don’t think it leaves us that powerless to explain it. If physical matter behaved as I just described, we could guess that it was caused by an otherwise invisible agent with intentions and consciousness. We’d still have to actually find out how it works, but as a provisional idea, the immaterial mind idea could at least be a useful working hypothesis.

    Sorry, but if the stars rearranged in the sky to read “made by god” a more ready explanation would be that I’d lost the plot and any amount of folk telling me different would be put down to paranoia and a conspiracy…”I thought that tea tasted funny”.

    Not necessarily. If everybody on the planet reported it, and other demonstrations of power were shown, and – even better – could be predicted or used by researchers, then it would be harder to claim perverted testimony than to claim that something was really pulling off all those tricks. At the very least, Hume’s test would be respected on its own terms.

    Of course people say god is “outside space and time” and so on, but I think it’s pretty clear such things are tacked on as insurance against skeptics.The same people will likely posit some interventionist deity when their guard’s down, and certainly more people believe in interventionist gods than in deistic ones. These benchmarks are just “first step” tests for specific versions of the god hypothesis, and other versions fall under the very real problems you outline. My point is that, if there is a real-world phenomenon which people refer to when they describe a god, then such phenomena are where scientists should focus.

    Yes, the cleverer apologist posits that argument. WLC states that as mere mortals and part of the creation, we can never know the mind of God, hence his defence of all the evil in the not-so-good-book. There is no countenance’s to such bollocks.

    Like I say, most people’s definitions of god – when they actually give one – come straight under the problems you’ve pointed out. I’m not trying to make an argument from ignorance, though, because the possibility of something really being the case is not enough to prove that it actually is the case, and anyone who relies solely on the former (like WLC) is charged with evading the latter.

    “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

    The argument from evil.

    WLC’s divine command theory. This causes difficulties for the omnipotence charge.

    I’m reminded of an essay in “50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists”, a can’t mind the title and a haven’t got my copy to hand, but basically it suggests that the good god hailed by the Abrahamic faith could just as easily be described, even more sincerely judging by the scriptures, as an evil god. The good die young, the evil ones among humanity not so much.

    “Is what is morally evil commanded by God because it is morally evil, or is it morally evil because it is commanded by God?”

    Well, yes, that’s why I said the Euthyphro dilemma and the Epicurean charge still stand. Anyway, an ethics debate is separate from an argument over whether or not a deity exists at all, never mind which particular deity. I think it’s safe to say that Divine Command Theory is bogus anyway. My point was that, even after all these concessions are made, the believers’ behaviour is not thereby justified.

    Here’s what Ophelia Benson says…

    I’m not evading or disagreeing with what Benson says by omitting the quotation, but I think it would be repeating what I’ve already posted.

    Lack of definition makes the whole thing like carrying water in a sieve. BTW, she predicted the Pope would have doubts along the lines of Mother Theresa back in 2011.

    Yes, which is why asking for a definition works wonders for a debate.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment, it has definitely stimulated my thinking.

    Likewise, Ignorant Amos. I learn a lot just by thinking about your arguments and counters in your replies. Keep posting!

  26. In reply to #27 by OmegaBaby:

    The trouble is that both scientists and philosophers demand exacting definitions of the things they’re discussing, so saying “God would be proven if X, Y, and Z were true” means that you should have such a definition in mind, even though you haven’t explicitly given it. My point is that what would impress a layman would not necessarily impress a more critical analyst like a philosopher or a scientist.

    I’m not saying your list of evidence isn’t cogent to the discussion – personally, I agree that these examples would put up a provisionally good case – but it leaves the word “god” unexamined, and first you have to pick out the one workable definition of god from about a hundred others, most of which are not workable and some of which are outright incoherent. There’s no “the” Christian god because the christians, through sect wars, divisiveness, idiosyncratic interpretations, and attempts to answer critical skeptics, have come up with several mutually incompatible versions of god. Not to mention the various versions of deism and so on that sprung up in history.

  27. In reply to #27 by OmegaBaby:

    I’m disappointed by all the condescending comments on this thread. I see Chipmunk’s point that nobody seems to want to give him a straight answer. It’s not a difficult question. Here’s my answer…

    Proving that God (and specifically the Christian god Jehovah) exists is not difficult at all. ANY ONE of the following would pretty much prove it for me…

    See what you did there…you made a definition of sorts. The Christian God Jehovah…Jesus in other words.

    Example: Scientists finding the words “Jehovah is LORD” written throughout our DNA.

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that?

    Example: Once every 100 years a loud voice comes out of the heavens proclaiming that Jehovah is LORD.

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that?

    Example: Bible having some scientific knowledge that just wasn’t deducible at the time of writing, such as…

    1) The number of planets in the solar system.

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that? Heck, a guess could get that one easy enough.

    2) The exact age of the Earth and Universe.

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that?

    3) Descriptions of atoms and molecules.

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that?

    4) A description of WHY the Earth is round (not just that it’s round, which was pretty easily deducible at the time)

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that?.
    ..
    An uber intelligent Alien could in effect, fulfill those criteria, but an uber intelligent Alien would not be a god..it might appear to us like one, but that isn’t the same thing at all.

    Now I’m not suggesting this is the case, but is it more or less probable?

  28. We’re back to Arthur C Clarke “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

    Substitute ‘god’ for magic and you’ve got a problem defining and proving any diety as distinct from a very advanced civilisation.

  29. OK, I’ll define God as having these attributes:

    1) non-human sentient being that

    2) has the where-with-all to know whether or not I believe in it’s existence

    3) and has the ability/motivation to punish me for any disbelief in it’s existence.

    Since there is no evidence that such a being exists, it makes no sense to me that such being would be so dang touchy on the question of it’s own existence. That is a pretty unreasonable deity in my opinion.

    On the other hand, if either 2 or 3 or both are false then we are free to analyse the evidence and let it take us where it leads us with out postulating any strange beings.

  30. In reply to #35 by Ignorant Amos:

    However, this reasoning is unfortunately fuel for the ‘Ancient Astronaut/Alien’ conspiracy theorists.
    I don’t want to get off topic but all of the phenomena I might take as evidence for a deity would be more likely to be first contact with extra terrestrials. However, I don’t believe that this has happened yet.

  31. In reply to #32 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #27 by OmegaBaby:

    The trouble is that both scientists and philosophers demand exacting definitions of the things they’re discussing, so saying “God would be proven if X, Y, and Z were true” means that you should have such a definition in mind, even though you haven’t explicitly given it. My point is that what would impress a layman would not necessarily impress a more critical analyst like a philosopher or a scientist.

    Seriously? If the words “Jehovah is LORD” were found repeated throughout our DNA, that would not impress a scientist? I’m sorry, but that would make me a believer.

    I’m not saying your list of evidence isn’t cogent to the discussion – personally, I agree that these examples would put up a provisionally good case – but it leaves the word “god” unexamined, and first you have to pick out the one workable definition of god from about a hundred others, most of which are not workable and some of which are outright incoherent. There’s no “the” Christian god because the christians, through sect wars, divisiveness, idiosyncratic interpretations, and attempts to answer critical skeptics, have come up with several mutually incompatible versions of god. Not to mention the various versions of deism and so on that sprung up in history.

    I’m pretty certain that if “Jehovah is LORD” were found in DNA, that would pretty much narrow down which god we’re talking about. It wouldn’t do diddley squat proving which religion is the ‘correct’ one, but that’s not relevant to the topic. The question was “what evidence would be enough to convince me god exists”. That’s the evidence that would push me over to the believer camp. I have no idea which sect I’d choose…but I’d probably put some effort into figuring out which one is the “true” one at that point. Or heck…maybe I’d start my own sect.

    My point is, I’m not a stubborn unbeliever. I do not believe god does not exist. Instead, I simply do not believe god exists. If evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” comes around that god exists, then I will start believing it.

  32. In reply to #38 by bob_e_s:

    However, this reasoning is unfortunately fuel for the ‘Ancient Astronaut/Alien’ conspiracy theorists.

    Of course, but it is no less probable than the current theological position. At least the ‘Ancient Astronaut/Alien’ conspiracy is more susceptible to a process of evolution. Whatever form that might take on another world. It also dispenses with egotistical ideas that the universe is created by ‘my god’ as a human playground and particularly, just for my in group.

    I don’t want to get off topic but all of the phenomena I might take as evidence for a deity would be more likely to be first contact with extra terrestrials. However, I don’t believe that this has happened yet.

    Well there is certainly no evidence for such, but any rational Intelligent Design proponent(of which there are none), must consider the possibility ahead of the god hypothesis, that’s if they are being totally honest with themselves…which they never are BTW.

  33. In reply to #33 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #27 by OmegaBaby:

    Proving that God (and specifically the Christian god Jehovah) exists is not difficult at all. ANY ONE of the following would pretty much prove it for me…

    See what you did there…you made a definition of sorts. The Christian God Jehovah…Jesus in other words.

    Yes? So? Believing in a specific god is a subset of believing in any god. If irrefutable evidence of a specific god comes about and makes be a believer, then that fulfills the requirement of “believing in the existence of god”, which is what the original question was.

    I assume the person asking the question is Christian, so I tailored my response to what it would take to convince me that the Christian god exists. If you replace “Jehovah” with “Zeus”, then the answers are pretty much the same.

    Example: Scientists finding the words “Jehovah is LORD” written throughout our DNA.

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that?

    Again…I don’t understand your point. I suppose it’s possible that aliens could have done it. Or that Zeus could have done it as a joke. But now you’re just grasping for reasons NOT to believe in a god at that point.

    Example: Bible having some scientific knowledge that just wasn’t deducible at the time of writing, such as…

    1) The number of planets in the solar system.

    So you are saying that only a god could do that, and a particular one at that? Heck, a guess could get that one easy enough.
    An uber intelligent Alien could in effect, fulfill those criteria, but an uber intelligent Alien would not be a god..it might appear to us like one, but that isn’t the same thing at all.
    Now I’m not suggesting this is the case, but is it more or less probable?

    The Bible examples I gave are examples of reasons why I don’t believe the Bible is inspired-of-God, since I would expect to see such evidence if it were. That lack of evidence strongly suggests beyond a reasonable doubt that it’s not inspired-of-God.

    However, if they were there, I would take that as convincing-enough evidence of the existence of the Christian god, since that knowledge would not have been possible by the writers in that time period.

    Is it possible that information could have come from advanced aliens? Sure! Show me evidence that it’s aliens, and I’d then stop believing in god again. However, if you just present suppositions without proof, that’s no proof at all!

    All I need is proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to believe in the existence of (any) god.

  34. If we found Jehova is God repeating through DNA, this would be grounds for belief?

    Well, DNA is a code and since it is a code, it contains information.

    Recently a group of wackers from Germany decided to apply a sort of numerology to DNA and they had an ID breakthrough!!! If you assign numbers to each of the nucleotides in the DNA (based on number of electrons,I think), you can plainly see that there are PATTERNS in the DNA!!!! Now, if you assign certain letters to the certain numbers, I am close to certain that some stretch of DNA could be “interpreted” as saying something like God or something similar. So, I do not think that this is a particularly good “demand of proof”.

  35. In reply to #40 by Ignorant Amos:

    Cynical alien geneticists seem far more probable than “God”. At least they are logically possible. Impossible things might exist, but then how can we know if they do?

  36. I finally have distilled my thoughts on this topic down to a single point:

    If there was evidence for God; you wouldn’t have to believe in it. It would BE. I do not believe in my computer. It IS. If god WAS, there’d be no need for belief. God would BE.

  37. Your question misses the point I think. The answer is if a “God” stood right in front of me and I could see, it (him really?) hear it, and I was 100% convinced it was real and really “God”, I would believe it existed, but so what?
    That is the beginning, which god, what qualities? Worthy or respect? Fear? Why write such vague and morally corrupt books of scripture (take your pick), suffering, apparent lack of oversight etc. Then if all those questions could be answered in a satisfactory manner, why worship it? If it is all good and all kind, I’m assuming it has enough self confidence that it doesn’t need my approval. I’ve never seen proof for a god although I used to believe in “Him”. But even standing right in front of me? Meh

  38. In reply to #42 by crookedshoes:

    If we found Jehova is God repeating through DNA, this would be grounds for belief?

    Well, DNA is a code and since it is a code, it contains information.

    Recently a group of wackers from Germany decided to apply a sort of numerology to DNA and they had an ID breakthrough!!! If you assign numbers to each of the nucleotides in the DNA (based on number of electrons,I think), you can plainly see that there are PATTERNS in the DNA!!!! Now, if you assign certain letters to the certain numbers, I am close to certain that some stretch of DNA could be “interpreted” as saying something like God or something similar. So, I do not think that this is a particularly good “demand of proof”.

    Agreed.

    I’ll modify the “evidence” it to say something along the lines of “Jehovah is LORD” is repeated in some pattern that would be statistically impossible by chance.

  39. Through sheer numbers I find it probable that life has evolved elsewhere in the universe. I’d have to look up when galaxies started forming, but I’m guessing 10 billion year ago give or take a few billion. I think it likely that there are and have been advanced entities and civilizations. If proven incorrect I will be surprised, but fine as that would be reality. Confronted with one of these advanced beings, I would have a ton of questions. But the desire to worship it? And blindly follow it’s opinions? Consider it a God?

  40. In reply to #39 by OmegaBaby:

    Seriously? If the words “Jehovah is LORD” were found repeated throughout our DNA, that would not impress a scientist?

    It would impress scientists alright, impress them to ask lots more questions about what it was doing there.

    >
    I’m sorry, but that would make me a believer.

    You’d be that incredulous? Two millennia ago, the story of a man that rose from the dead was enough start a lot of nonsense going.

    And yet, the fossil record isn’t enough to convince many a believer of a real scientific theory. According to some wingnuts, Satan is to blame for the fossils.

    Since the conversation is hypothetical, finding “Jehovah is LORD” in DNA would be a scientific phenomena to investigate. Finding DNA was an innovation. Discovering it was a digital recipe for life was an innovation. That didn’t stop the godheads from claiming it to be divine in nature.

    I’m pretty certain that if “Jehovah is LORD” were found in DNA, that would pretty much narrow down which god we’re talking about. It wouldn’t do diddley squat proving which religion is the ‘correct’ one, but that’s not relevant to the topic.

    But by your standard, the religion of Jehovah would be the ‘correct’ one, who else could’ve written such a thing in DNA? Which other one could it be, unless “Jehovah is LORD” found in DNA was a lie…a ruse…a joke.

    The question was “what evidence would be enough to convince me god exists”. That’s the evidence that would push me over to the believer camp. I have no idea which sect I’d choose…but I’d probably put some effort into figuring out which one is the “true” one at that point. Or heck…maybe I’d start my own sect.

    I presume that sect would be followers of Jehovah? Wouldn’t you, having accepted the DNA evidence of proof of Jehovah’s existence, at least want to try and get on the right side? Given the potential repercussions of getting it wrong I mean.

    My point is, I’m not a stubborn unbeliever. I do not believe god does not exist.

    Double negative? Joking, I understand what you are trying to say.

    Instead, I simply do not believe god exists. If convincing evidence comes around that god exists, then I will start believing it.

    But in spite of everything else you know about the Jehovah concept from the scriptures and the world at large…”Jehovah is LORD” written in DNA would sway it for you? Interesting.

  41. The Tetragrammaton written in galactic clusters in perfect Hebrew, as if God was using a dot-matrix printer to spell his name out for us, visible only from Earth, of course.

  42. Ex-fundie preacher here. I understand that most people here are answering from a very cerebral and tortuous (albeit necessary) logical standpoint. I however can only answer from my previous station as someone who dealt with miracles, answered prayer, ‘supernatural intervention’ and other various ‘proofs’ of gods existence.

    I can fully say that no miracle, no answered prayer, no flash of lightning, no preacher standing up in front of tens of thousands, not is single biblical ‘prophecy’, no apparition, no ANYTHING, would ever get me back to a belief in god. The reason? I have seen all these things turn to nonsense in the face of evidence. Even if every other logical, not evidential, argument would fail, I will not return to faith. I (and many other people of faith) have seen religions poison enough. The inconsistency in religion alone is reason to be an atheist or agnostic.

    I suppose the original question is supposed to have someone tell you what physical proof there is that could convert them to theism. I can’t list any, but as previously stated, debating about logical points doesn’t effect my position. Physical proof would in essence, but as I find the inconsistency in religion so varied and ridiculous, I believe that there is a one in a bazillion chance of testable evidence occurring and therefore changing my opinion. (FYI, bazillion is a real number. I believe it’s 1 with a bazillion zeroes after it…)

    Cheers,

    -J

  43. In reply to #9 by whiteraven:

    There are really two questions: “what evidence is necessary and sufficient to convince you?” and “what evidence is necessary and sufficient to convince Dawkins?” If you don’t care whether you convince him, then to hell with what he thinks.

    If you do care, then you’ve got to meet his standard of proof. Whose standard of proof you apply may or may not lead to the ultimate Truth.His standard is based on the scientific method and rationalism and I daresay, a belief or faith that science will ultimately fill in all the gaps that the “god of the gaps” is squeezing through.

    Actually I’d have to disagreee with you there. Richard Dawkins does seem to have developed an alarming tendency to apply science and rationalism where it suits and ignore it where it doesn’t. Which presents an interesting conumdrum in making him a brilliant scientist and analyst in some respects and frighteningly close to the narrow subjective certainty of the religious in others.

    He’s right about the fact that there is no evidence for the existence of god so it is unlikely, and he is superb on the extremes of religion and some of the nastiness and stupidity of those extremes. However when it comes to understanding or trying to understand what is going on with religion, or why people choose to be religious, or even acknowledging that religious people are all different and that there are some religiously motivated good things, he lets subjective prejudices stand in the way of listening and is therefore not acting scientifically. Not even trying to see what is there. Which is fine if you’re not interested but he supposedly is.

    In many respects he seems to becoming someone who ignores the complexities of evidence and rational enquiry in favour of if a simplistic knee jerk reaction that amounts to ‘if religious person supports it we’ll be against it and vice versa’, and in doing so he is failing to adress some very real concerns non religious people are starting to have that religion is adressing. And adressing very well. And he seems to have decided what religion and the world was like 40 years ago and hasn’t kept abreast of the fact that like all other memes both have evolved and changed.

    As for his overwhelming new interests in things like evolutionary psychology – again he lets his prejudices get in the way of genuine scientific objectivity and oversimplifies things to suit what he thinks should be found. It is a science in its infancy – unlike evolutionary biology – with little in the way of hard scientific proof seen in other disciplines but lots of conjecture. So far more caution should be taken to ensure objectivity than seems to be the case.

    So basically I don’t think you will convince Richard Dawkins of anything outside of his own thinking because Richard Dawkins has stopped listening as far as I can see. He’s been put above criticism.

    As for convincing the rest of us, I’m not sure what would do it for others. I personally would love to be able to believe but simply find it’s the complete absence of any evidence that makes it very difficult. And the improbability.

    The real clincher for me was the fact that so often the same ‘god’ was so different depending on who was believing in it. Nice people had a loving, forgiving, non judgemental, tolerant god or allah, bigoted fundamentalists a nasty homophobic, misogynistic god or allah. So all the evidence there seemed to point to god existing solely as a human construct. The perfect imaginary friend fleshed out with additional material from the bible, koran, bhaghad vita etc – carefully chosen to suit. Any evidence would have to adress that conudrum.

    That’s a fine idea and very likely according to Bayesian probability but since it hasn’t actually been done there remains a finite chance it can’t be done. In mathematics, it takes only one counterexample to disprove a theorem.In a way, the more the believers in a god throw in bigger heaps of nonsense and bullshit, and the more they insist on rebutting scientific evidence, the bigger a target they create, the easier it is to hit it and discredit it in the eyes of anyone with an open mind.

    Which not all of them do if we’re honest. Many are fine with science and don’t talk nonsense so that is a narrow stereotype of religious belief.

    They would be better off to settle for deism and leave it to Dawkins to evolve enough fingers or long enough arms to plug the holes in the scientific dam. ;)Of course if they did that and dispensed with all the rest of the baggage, Richard would probably be fairly content.

    He was content enough when he wrote the god delusion. Unfortunately that rational, non judgemental Richard Dawkins that I so admired seems to have disappeared. Ignoring the fact that what most of us experience with believers is exactly that – people who aren’t that different from ourselves and who agreed with him on so much in that book. So when we come here to discuss the worst excesses we find ourselves defending the reasonable instead.

  44. *In reply to #20 by crookedshoes: If we can assume that god is directing the problem at somone who is capable of dealing with it, then we can say that god knows very well that you can’t prove a negative and also that whoever he has addressed the problem to knows this too, he knows he can’t fool the subject of the test; so a real god, one worthy of the name, would not waste his time making a demand for a proof. *

    I am God. Prove I am not.

  45. In reply to #48 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #39 by OmegaBaby:

    You’d be that incredulous? Two millennia ago, the story of a man that rose from the dead was enough start a lot of nonsense going.

    What? How is that equivalent evidence? A story of a man who rose from the dead is hearsay.

    I’m pretty certain that if “Jehovah is LORD” were found in DNA, that would pretty much narrow down which god we’re talking about. It wouldn’t do diddley squat proving which religion is the ‘correct’ one, but that’s not relevant to the topic.

    But by your standard, the religion of Jehovah would be the ‘correct’ one, who else could’ve written such a thing in DNA? Which other one could it be, unless “Jehovah is LORD” found in DNA was a lie…a ruse…a joke.

    No. Not at all. It would only prove the existence of the Christian god. It still wouldn’t prove any religion to be true (except for the part about god existing…I’d have to give them credit for that).

    Instead, I simply do not believe god exists. If convincing evidence comes around that god exists, then I will start believing it.

    But in spite of everything else you know about the Jehovah concept from the scriptures and the world at large…”Jehovah is LORD” written in DNA would sway it for you? Interesting.

    I think you’re confusing religion with god. If convincible evidence came about that the Christian god exists, I would start believing in the existence of a Christian god. However, I would not automatically become a “Christian”. Just because the god exists does not prove that the religion is accurate (maybe gives it some credence, but far from proof). But it would probably be enough for me to at least start investigating the various Christian religions to see if there was anything real going on there. I’d still be skeptical of the beliefs though (except for the “god-existing” belief).

    Heck…I still probably wouldn’t like the guy given his track record. But I would still believe in his existence.

  46. In reply to #41 by OmegaBaby:

    Yes? So? Believing in a specific god is a subset of believing in any god. If irrefutable evidence of a specific god comes about and makes be a believer, then that fulfills the requirement of “believing in the existence of god”, which is what the original question was.

    Yes, but by giving that specific god, you inherently added a number of attributes.

    Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

    “The completeness of the Divine perfection is such that companionship is not necessary to the happiness of Jehovah. The One who “inhabiteth eternity” is self-centered. The creation of angels and of man was indeed His pleasure, because, benevolently, He desires to do good, to give capacity for pleasure and to afford it opportunity for gratification. Furthermore, the highest good of His creatures calls for an exhibition to the full of all the elements of Divine character–Divine Justice, Love, Power and Wisdom.”

    Those attributes wouldn’t apply to Zeus for example.

    I assume the person asking the question is Christian, so I tailored my response to what it would take to convince me that the Christian god exists.

    No, the question is none specific.

    If you replace “Jehovah” with “Zeus”, then the answers are pretty much the same.

    No, they are not. If you name Zeus, you add different attributes. Example: Zeus lives on top of Mt.Olympus, that can be falsified.

    Again…I don’t understand your point. I suppose it’s possible that aliens could have done it. Or that Zeus could have done it as a joke. ** But now you’re just grasping for reasons NOT to believe in a god at that point.**

    No I’m not. That Aliens exist is a possibility at least. Zeus, not so much so. Could an Alien called Jehovah put “Jehovah is LORD” in DNA…not very probable, but more probable than a god called Jehovah did it, particularly the one described by the books of the Abrahamic faiths. As far fetched as it sounds, something possible trumps something impossible every time in my book.

    The Bible examples I gave are examples of reasons why I don’t believe the Bible is inspired-of-God, since I would expect to see such evidence if it were. That lack of evidence strongly suggests beyond a reasonable doubt that it’s not inspired-of-God.

    Agreed.

    However, if they were there, I would take that as convincing-enough evidence of the existence of the Christian god, since that knowledge would not have been possible by the writers in that time period.

    Only because they are not their, if they were there from the get go, we would already think that the extent of human knowledge was greater than it is. The fact that the scriptures get the science so wrong only confirms the former and disproves the later.

    Is it possible that information could have come from advanced aliens? Sure! Show me evidence that it’s aliens, and I’d then stop believing in god again.

    I don’t believe such things, but they are at least as probable than the bible bull.

    However, if you just present suppositions without proof, that’s no proof at all!

    The onus isn’t on me, it is on those making the more extraordinary claim. That I’m a brain in a jar or Aliens did it is at least more probable as godidit. Brains exist, Aliens are at least possible…gods ain’t either.

    All I need is proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to believe in the existence of (any) god.

    No, your proof will need to be a lot more substantial than that I’m afraid to say. Reasonable doubt? Seriously?

  47. In reply to #49 by Alan Canon:

    The Tetragrammaton written in galactic clusters in perfect Hebrew, as if God was using a dot-matrix printer to spell his name out for us, visible only from Earth, of course.

    Pareidolia.

  48. In reply to #55 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #41 by OmegaBaby:

    Yes? So? Believing in a specific god is a subset of believing in any god. If irrefutable evidence of a specific god comes about and makes be a believer, then that fulfills the requirement of “believing in the existence of god”, which is what the original question was.

    Yes, but by giving that specific god, you inherently added a number of attributes.

    Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

    “The completeness of the Divine perfection is such that companionship is not necessary to the happiness of Jehovah. The One who “inhabiteth eternity” is self-centered. The creation of angels and of man was indeed His pleasure, because, benevolently, He desires to do good, to give capacity for pleasure and to afford it opportunity for gratification. Furthermore, the highest good of His creatures calls for an exhibition to the full of all the elements of Divine character–Divine Justice, Love, Power and Wisdom.”

    You’re saying that if you believe the Christian god exists, then you must also believe everything in the Bible. I do not agree.

    Those attributes wouldn’t apply to Zeus for example.

    I assume the person asking the question is Christian, so I tailored my response to what it would take to convince me that the Christian god exists.

    No, the question is none specific.

    If you replace “Jehovah” with “Zeus”, then the answers are pretty much the same.

    No, they are not. If you name Zeus, you add different attributes. Example: Zeus lives on top of Mt.Olympus, that can be falsified.

    Alright…that’s nitpicking. I’m not saying the same evidence applies, only equivalent evidence can be devised to prove the existence of god.

    Also, just because you can prove Zeus doesn’t live on Mt. Olympus does not prove that Zeus does not exist. Only that he does not live on Mt. Olympus.

    The onus isn’t on me, it is on those making the more extraordinary claim. That I’m a brain in a jar or Aliens did it is at least more probable as godidit. Brains exist, Aliens are at least possible…gods ain’t either.

    All I need is proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to believe in the existence of (any) god.

    No, your proof will need to be a lot more substantial than that I’m afraid to say. Reasonable doubt? Seriously?

    I guess it boils down to this: I’m a “weak unbeliever”, and you’re a “strong unbeliever”. I don’t believe in god because I don’t think there is evidence that he exists. You don’t believe in god because you think there is evidence that he does not exist. I personally don’t think there is any evidence of God’s non-existence, so all it would take for me is at least SOME convincing evidence to believe in the existence of god. And if that evidence later proved incorrect in some way (e.g. aliens did it), then I’d become an unbeliever again.

  49. Yet I have.

    I mean, I demand worship and make people sing songs to me on certain days. I smite those who slaughter a bull improperly. I demanded of Abraham that he sacrifice his SON for me. It surprises you that I would make an arbitrary demand???

    I laugh. Silly mortal.

    In reply to #53 by whiteraven:

    *In reply to #20 by crookedshoes: If we can assume that god is directing the problem at somone who is capable of dealing with it, then we can say that god knows very well that you can’t prove a negative and also that whoever he has addressed the problem to knows this too, he knows he can’t fool the subject of the test; so a real god, one worthy of the name, would not waste his time making a demand for a proof. *

    I am God. Prove I am not.

  50. I was asked this question on the Protect he Pope website so my answer was: when amputees regrow their limbs there will be something to discus.

    The repsonse? We Catholics know that we have an imperfect body but our soul is imortal, so we are prepared to accept the amputations.

    My next question was. In that case why do Catholics go to Lourdes to pray for a cure.

    I’m still waiting for an answer.

  51. In reply to #54 by OmegaBaby:

    What? How is that equivalent evidence? A story of a man who rose from the dead is hearsay.

    I agree, but the believers won’t be convinced it is hearsay, they believe the writings of their scriptures are by divinely inspired humans in spite of better probabilities.

    But by your standard, the religion of Jehovah would be the ‘correct’ one, who else could’ve written such a thing in DNA? Which other one could it be, unless “Jehovah is LORD” found in DNA was a lie…a ruse…a joke.

    No. Not at all. It would only prove the existence of the Christian god. It still wouldn’t prove any religion to be true (except for the part about god existing…I’d have to give them credit for that).

    But if the Christian god existed, then surely one would concede that one of the 38,000+ flavours of Christianity has the best chance of being correct and it would be prudent to base ones search on that premise. I mean, following Islam would not be the best idea all things considered.

    Instead, I simply do not believe god exists. If convincing evidence comes around that god exists, then I will start believing it.

    That is the point of the OP…it appears your standard of evidence is just a lot lower than most here.

    But in spite of everything else you know about the Jehovah concept from the scriptures and the world at large…”Jehovah is LORD” written in DNA would sway it for you? Interesting.

    I think you’re confusing religion with god.

    No I’m not, you invoked the Christian god. Gods and their religious followers go sort of hand in glove.

    If convincible evidence came about that the Christian god exists, I would start believing in the existence of a Christian god. However, I would not automatically become a “Christian”.

    So, from your perspective, if you were say, a Hindu, the existence of the Christian god wouldn’t be enough for you to jump ship to Christianity, given that according to the Christian god, that stance would doom you to an eternity of torment? Again, interesting position.

    Just because the god exists does not prove that the religion is accurate (maybe gives it some credence, but far from proof).

    Well it sort of does, at least at a basic level.

    But it would probably be enough for me to at least start investigating the various Christian religions to see if there was anything real going on there. I’d still be skeptical of the beliefs though (except for the “god-existing” belief).

    Spoing!

    Heck…I still probably wouldn’t like the guy given his track record. But I would still believe in his existence.

    I’ve noticed you attribute a sex to the deity.

  52. ” Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence though that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. “

    Carl Sagan

    That pretty much covers all the bases here.

  53. In reply to #45 by poseyjt:

    Your question misses the point I think. The answer is if a “God” stood right in front of me and I could see, it (him really?) hear it, and I was 100% convinced it was real and really “God”, I would believe it existed, but so what?
    That is the beginning, which god, what qualities? Worthy or respect? Fear? Why write such vague and morally corrupt books of scripture (take your pick), suffering, apparent lack of oversight etc. Then if all those questions could be answered in a satisfactory manner, why worship it? If it is all good and all kind, I’m assuming it has enough self confidence that it doesn’t need my approval. I’ve never seen proof for a god although I used to believe in “Him”. But even standing right in front of me? Meh

    Even standing right in front of me, I’d assume I was hallucinating.

  54. I think this is not off topic and I was considering this question yesterday. I grew up religious and believed in god although I had a very hard time making sense out of it. Is there a “god” or being that one can make up that would also deserve “worship”? I think the answer is no but would like to hear if anyone can come up with such a god. Even the kindest most knowing being would only deserve respect IMHO. Not trying to play a semantic game. Just think even coming to the agreement that there is a “god” of any definition that I can come up with would only get me to, Ok, and? Not to worship, and not even to following it’s precepts unless they made sense.

  55. In reply to #57 by OmegaBaby:

    Yes, but by giving that specific god, you inherently added a number of attributes.

    Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

    “The completeness of the Divine perfection is such that companionship is not necessary to the happiness of Jehovah. The One who “inhabiteth eternity” is self-centered. The creation of angels and of man was indeed His pleasure, because, benevolently, He desires to do good, to give capacity for pleasure and to afford it opportunity for gratification. Furthermore, the highest good of His creatures calls for an exhibition to the full of all the elements of Divine character–Divine Justice, Love, Power and Wisdom.”

    You’re saying that if you believe the Christian god exists, then you must also believe everything in the Bible. I do not agree.

    It matters not whether you agree. That’s why there are biblical literalists and the 38,000+ varieties of Christianity consisting of the ultra-conservatives on the right like the Westbro Baptist wackaloons and the liberal lefties and their wishy washy spiritualist cherry picking with everything in between.

    Also, just because you can prove Zeus doesn’t live on Mt. Olympus does not prove that Zeus does not exist. Only that he does not live on Mt. Olympus.

    That misses the point…living on Mt. Olympus is a testable attribute, that’s all.

    I guess it boils down to this: I’m a “weak unbeliever”, and you’re a “strong unbeliever”. I don’t believe in god because I don’t think there is evidence that he exists.

    There isn’t.

    You don’t believe in god because you think there is evidence that he does not exist.

    Nope…I’m an Igtheist.

    That said, there is evidence that certain gods don’t exist when individual folk try to define their attributes. Example: Jehovah is an all loving god can clearly be seen to be erroneous. Yahweh created the first two humans is erroneous. etc., etc.

    I personally don’t think there is any evidence of God’s non-existence, so all it would take for me is at least SOME convincing evidence to believe in the existence of god.

    And there is ‘the invisible fire breathing dragon in my garage’hypothesis again.

    And if that evidence later proved incorrect in some way (e.g. aliens did it), then I’d become an unbeliever again.

    Why not start with the ‘aliens did it’ hypothesis first…that’s all I’m asking? And it makes more sense than your alternative.

  56. In reply to #57 by OmegaBaby:

    I guess it boils down to this: I’m a “weak unbeliever”, and you’re a “strong unbeliever”. I don’t believe in god because I don’t think there is evidence that he exists. You don’t believe in god because you think there is evidence that he does not exist. I personally don’t think there is any evidence of God’s non-existence, so all it would take for me is at least SOME convincing evidence to believe in the existence of god. And if that evidence later proved incorrect in some way (e.g. aliens did it), then I’d become an unbeliever again.

    I hope Amos responds to this because although I am strictly speaking an agnostic or “weak” atheist I find myself agreeing more with him than you.

    As an agnostic I lack absolute faith in logic. Illogical things might in fact exist, but there can still be no evidence for their existence which we can comprehend.

  57. As a Rationalist, I would accept a logical argument.

    There are zero valid arguments for the possible existence of god. There are numerous arguments proving the logical impossibility of god. That’s outstanding. Not one valid argument allowing for even the remotest possibility of there being any kind of god. If someone is ever clever enough to come up with one, I will gratefully change my stance.

  58. In reply to #66 by This Is Not A Meme:

    As a Rationalist, I would accept a logical argument.

    There are zero valid arguments for the possible existence of god. There are numerous arguments proving the logical impossibility of god. That’s outstanding. Not one valid argument allowing for even the remotest possibility of there being any kind of god. If someone is ever clever enough to come up with one, I will gratefully change my stance.

    Might it not be more rational to conclude that that one may just be cleverer than you are until some actual evidence is produced.

  59. The current evidence supporting the hypothesis “god exists” is zero. Given our current understanding of the natural world the chance that we will find any evidence supporting the existence of “god” in the future is zero.

    If you only entertain rational, empirical evidence, and believe in empiricism then asking about evidence to prove the existence of “god” is no different from asking for evidence to prove the existence of the Tooth Fairy. There is no such evidence, and no such evidence is to be expected.

    The evidence to support such an unlikely hypothesis as “god exists” would have to be extraordinary. I would accept the following:

    God talks to everyone on the whole planet all at once and announces he is back.
    God stops all current wars, police actions, riots, and other medium and large scale violence.
    God feeds, and shelters all the poor in the world.
    God makes a blunt statement of his ethical rules and they include: do not initiate violence, all people are equal before the eyes of the law, and you should try your best to help your fellow man. His rules do not include making women second class citizens, any prohibitions on actions that are harmless, or threats about going to hell if you don’t believe in him.
    God gives scientists a cure for cancer.
    God gives scientists a universal vaccine.
    God gives scientists a 100% effective antibacterial agent.
    God gives scientists the plans for a practical fusion reactor.

    That would convince me.

  60. In reply to #20 by crookedshoes:

    I am God. Prove I am not.

    I can’t – do you prefer prayers or cold hard cash?

  61. In reply to #20 by crookedshoes:

    I am God. Prove I am not.
    I have better credentials, you mortal!

    If I have vision of God showing in the clouds and he tells me that tomorrow at 8AM all rivers will flow uphill for 5 minutes and this event indeed happens and is widely reported by all news agencies, I will reconsider my atheism, but only after consulting with a psychiatrist (or two, I always prefer a second opinion).

  62. In reply to #70 by GOD:

    If I have vision of God showing in the clouds and he tells me that tomorrow at 8AM all rivers will flow uphill for 5 minutes and this event indeed happens and is widely reported by all news agencies, I will reconsider my atheism, but only after consulting with a psychiatrist (or two, I always prefer a second opinion).

    Stranger things happen in nature.
    I have seen geological evidence of rivers running up hill, Mind you, they did have glacial lakes two miles higher than the hills, with water pressure forcing the out-flows between the ice-sheet and the hill it was resting on!
    I have also seen modern examples of this on videos of Greenland glaciers!

    I have also seen wind blown waterfalls with water flying upwards, back to where it came from!

    However even this winter, I think it unlikely that the ice will build up to that thickness before tomorrow morning.

  63. If you want an organism with “Jehovah is LORD” written throughout its DNA, just write a very, very large cheque to Craig Venter and wait 6 months for delivery. In fact, if you will settle for one with “Craig Venter made me” (well not quite, but Synthia has 4 DNA watermarks which include the names of the team), you could have one by return of post.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycoplasma_laboratorium

    1) “Jehovah is LORD” written in our DNA would therefore only be proof of an intelligence/civilisation only slightly more advanced than our own, with a mischievous sense of humour.

    2) We already know the full human genome. There are no watermarks.

    As to the original question, I suggest those interested in proof of god cut their teeth on the much simpler problem of detecting the undetectable goblin sitting on Jos Gibbons’ shoulder.

  64. Okay OmegaBaby,

                         I kind of agree with your sentiments I don't think its an irrelevant questions however people have been quite right to point out the flaws and ambiguities of the question.
    

    Pendantic of me I know but I have some issues with your proofs also which highlight some of the diffculties

    Proving that God (and specifically the Christian god Jehovah) exists is not difficult at all. ANY ONE of the following would pretty much prove it for me…

    Example: Scientists finding the words “Jehovah is LORD” written throughout our DNA.

    The technology necessary to read the DNA puts us in the realm of being able to say infect everyones genome with just such a code as Craig Venter has ably demonstrated.

    Example: Once every 100 years a loud voice comes out of the heavens proclaiming that Jehovah is LORD.

    Again I’ve been to a number of loud rock concerts you would need to establish this couldn’t be done without human or even alien intervention.

    Example: Bible having some scientific knowledge that just wasn’t deducible at the time of writing, such as…

    1) The number of planets in the solar system.

    2) The exact age of the Earth and Universe.

    3) Descriptions of atoms and molecules.

    4) A description of WHY the Earth is round (not just that it’s round, which was pretty easily deducible at the time).

    Contrast these with the existing weak claims of “proof” in the Bible. The Jewish knowledge of preventing the spread of communicable disease was also easily deducible at the time…there’s nothing to suggest that knowledge was given by God. And don’t even get me started on claims like that without the Bible, humans wouldn’t know that murder is wrong.

    I’m sure God could come up with even better examples than mine. He is God after all. Claims that “maybe we haven’t found such proof” don’t cut it either, because God could have been providing more relevant proof as human knowledge progressed.

    I admit these would be good unless of course time travel is a possibility in which case future relgious appologists could time travel back infulence the bible to include passages with such content.

    See the problem with something so unlikely as the Judo Christian god must admit an awful lot of very improbable alternative explainations before his existance becomes more likely than the alternatives.

  65. Anything that can be presented clearly, is objective and can be agreed upon using the scientific model.
    And of course the evidence must describe unnatural phenomenon. i.e something that is outside of the natural laws.

    Basically you show me something that defies natural laws in the manner described above and I’m sold. Anything else is delusional , a psychological construct or just plain lies.

  66. In reply to #20 by crookedshoes:

    I am God. Prove I am not.

    Actually, my former church really did believe this. God was considered All – in all and all within God- panentheism, New Thought. What are your views about this Chipmunk? Are they correct or wrong?
    The definition of God I overcame is not the typical Christian one even though certain quotes in the Bible are used to support this view. The evidence needed is much different from the one you imply Chipmunk.

    If you were truly in alignment with Divine Mind, you should be able to manifest your desires in this reality. (Law of Attraction but much more complex and involved than the Secret) The catch is that no one mentions on the video is that your entire life – entire life – including attitude, actions, habits, thoughts, experiences, commitment, needs to be focused on the positive result. Your shooting for high odds here and you have plenty of problems, challenges, set backs, etc. to blame as your reason for not achieving the high odds. It’s like a sneaky carnival trick. You try to shoot a basketball into a hoop, but the hoop is set at an odd angle and is slightly smaller diameter than the ball. Usually the hoop is the same diameter so you’ve got a handicap but sinking the shot is still possible. In this case the goal is impossible, but from your viewpoint it seems achievable- the ball simply needs to go through the hoop as countless of other people have done so trillions of times before. Your perception is flawed and you haven’t figured it out yet.

    In this view of God (Hopefully, you are listening Chipmunk) the goalpost or standards for verifiability is set so high (reaching Godlike achievements) that there are so many excuses that you could use them for why you never seemed to reach enlightenment. You could also forward this “achievement” into another lifetime in a different body. You could also trick yourself by moving the goalpost so close that simple, natural givens are credited to God. Say your standing in a neighborhood thinking about your hopes to find a dream home. You turn around and there in front of you is a “for sale” sign. You schedule a visit and viola, it’s perfect; you buy it. Or say you’re naive, spending your money on this impossible basketball shot all to get a cheap stuffed animal made in Taiwan. You say to yourself, “I’m no good at this.” “I’m just not feeling that focused today.” “Maybe, if I keep trying.” “Why is that music so loud?” “Why does everyone have to stare at me?” You get to the point of blaming yourself and others rather than see the game you’re playing is set up to make you a loser so they can get your cash. You’re involved in a co-dependent dance which requires both of you to buy into the possibility of the game. If the carnival operator truly believes you can sink the shot, then you’re into a ride for a lifetime.

    Yes, you too could walk on water, but you have so much human baggage, no wonder you sink. Gurus claim that they can elevate, but we have yet to see one actually do so on camera. I once attended a lecture by Wayne Dyer and in the late minutes of his lecture run far overtime, he claimed that this powerful meditation CD ($19.95?) helped him reach such incredible depth in his meditation that he felt himself bump down into the ground. (He implied that he levitated -without directly saying “I levitate”- and felt himself land on the ground. I know that feeling, I used to get it when I hit my head on the bus window when I didn’t realize I dozed off. We lie to ourselves and Gurus are able to lie big time to others if they are good at lying to themselves.

    So Chipmunk, what’s my point in rambling on at the expense of crookedshoes’ comment? To prove the existence of God that I’m using takes a whole different measure. It requires you, as God, manifesting all you desire in this lifetime, health, finances, home, perfect employment, relationship, etc. To not do this means that you are operating at a lower vibrational level. I would like to see you provide evidence for this view of God being true. Or perhaps you would like to prove it false. Take your pick. Just know that whatever you say, there will always be a way that the spiritual view can be adapted to anything you say.

  67. Thanks for going to the trouble of articulating the “loaded” behind my “loaded” question. Kinda highlights it as bullocks, no?

    In reply to #76 by QuestioningKat:

    In reply to #20 by crookedshoes:

    I am God. Prove I am not.

    Actually, my former church really did believe this. God was considered All – in all and all within God- panentheism, New Thought. What are your views about this Chipmunk? Are they correct or wrong?
    The definition of God I overcame is not the typical Christian one even though certain quotes in the Bible are used to support this view. The evidence needed is much different from the one you imply Chipmunk.

    If you were truly in alignment with Divine Mind, you should be able to manifest your desires in this reality. (Law of Attraction but much more complex and involved than the Secret) The catch is that no one mentions on the video is that your entire life – entire life – including attitude, actions, habits, thoughts, experiences, commitment, needs to be focused on the positive result. Your shooting for high odds here and you have plenty of problems, challenges, set backs, etc. to blame as your reason for not achieving the high odds. It’s like a sneaky carnival trick. You try to shoot a basketball into a hoop, but the hoop is set at an odd angle and is slightly smaller diameter than the ball. Usually the hoop is the same diameter so you’ve got a handicap but sinking the shot is still possible. In this case the goal is impossible, but from your viewpoint it seems achievable- the ball simply needs to go through the hoop as countless of other people have done so trillions of times before. Your perception is flawed and you haven’t figured it out yet.

    In this view of God (Hopefully, you are listening Chipmunk) the goalpost or standards for verifiability is set so high (reaching Godlike achievements) that there are so many excuses that you could use them for why you never seemed to reach enlightenment. You could also forward this “achievement” into another lifetime in a different body. You could also trick yourself by moving the goalpost so close that simple, natural givens are credited to God. Say your standing in a neighborhood thinking about your hopes to find a dream home. You turn around and there in front of you is a “for sale” sign. You schedule a visit and viola, it’s perfect; you buy it. Or say you’re naive, spending your money on this impossible basketball shot all to get a cheap stuffed animal made in Taiwan. You say to yourself, “I’m no good at this.” “I’m just not feeling that focused today.” “Maybe, if I keep trying.” “Why is that music so loud?” “Why does everyone have to stare at me?” You get to the point of blaming yourself and others rather than see the game you’re playing is set up to make you a loser so they can get your cash. You’re involved in a co-dependent dance which requires both of you to buy into the possibility of the game. If the carnival operator truly believes you can sink the shot, then you’re into a ride for a lifetime.

    Yes, you too could walk on water, but you have so much human baggage, no wonder you sink. Gurus claim that they can elevate, but we have yet to see one actually do so on camera. I once attended a lecture by Wayne Dyer and in the late minutes of his lecture run far overtime, he claimed that this powerful meditation CD ($19.95?) helped him reach such incredible depth in his meditation that he felt himself bump down into the ground. (He implied that he levitated -without directly saying “I levitate”- and felt himself land on the ground. I know that feeling, I used to get it when I hit my head on the bus window when I didn’t realize I dozed off. We lie to ourselves and Gurus are able to lie big time to others if they are good at lying to themselves.

    So Chipmunk, what’s my point in rambling on at the expense of crookedshoes’ comment? To prove the existence of God that I’m using takes a whole different measure. It requires you, as God, manifesting all you desire in this lifetime, health, finances, home, perfect employment, relationship, etc. To not do this means that you are operating at a lower vibrational level. I would like to see you provide evidence for this view of God being true. Or perhaps you would like to prove it false. Take your pick. Just know that whatever you say, there will always be a way that the spiritual view can be adapted to anything you say.

  68. In reply to #49 by Alan Canon:

    The Tetragrammaton written in galactic clusters in perfect Hebrew, as if God was using a dot-matrix printer to spell his name out for us, visible only from Earth, of course.

    Brain in a vat or super alien intelligence creating known universe would cover that.

    Michael

  69. In reply to #41 by OmegaBaby:

    In reply to #33 by Ignorant Amos:

    Is it possible that information could have come from advanced aliens? Sure! Show me evidence that it’s aliens, and I’d then stop believing in god again. However, if you just present suppositions without proof, that’s no proof at all!

    Why believe in Gods before aliens or time-travellers. Gods pose all kinds of problems for physics as we understand it it. Aliens and time-travellers are reasonably plausible.

    Michael

  70. It does not seem like you are an atheist, but your answer lies yourself. Ask yourself what constitutes GOD and develop your required evidence.. but I guess when you say evidence that could never be found you have already shut the door..

  71. It may be helpful to approach the question from the opposite direction. What would it take to convince someone that God absolutely cannot exist? I think that if it could be shown that the existence of God were logically fallacious, then one could be confident in rejecting the idea altogether.

    If it were shown that “God” makes as much sense as, say, “boiling ice,” then obviously “God” is a logical contradiction.

  72. In reply to #6 by rmanoj:

    Let us take an example from Physics. Physicists for 200 years (?) or so believed that light was a wave…

    Thanks for this post, it seems a very coherent response.

    The questioner, I think, is implying that if an answer boils down to “I wouldn’t believe it anyway” then that is , little different to the faithful. So, for me, I would say that if a miracle happened, as described in holy texts, that was shown to be outside the laws of physics then that would be a start. I would then question whether this was a god or a more superior species, but it would be a start. All evidence so far shows that the answer is ‘not magic’.

  73. In reply to #82 by jack.blair.10:

    It may be helpful to approach the question from the opposite direction. What would it take to convince someone that God absolutely cannot exist?

    It is not possible to prove a negative.

    I think that if it could be shown that the existence of God were logically fallacious, then one could be confident in rejecting the idea altogether.

    Numerous gods have been shown to logically fallacious, but the Trooo believer with faith-blinkers, will always see their own pet god as being different, creating their own verbose mental contortions to square the triangular circle!

    If it were shown that “God” makes as much sense as, say, “boiling ice,” then obviously “God” is a logical contradiction.

    You should be really careful with analogies – especially where incredulity is involved.
    Foot-shooting is all too easy!

    http://blogs.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/2012/02/weird-water-on-gj1214b/

    Even more intriguing is that due to the temperature (being so close to its red dwarf star makes it around 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and extreme pressures, all that water gets a bit…exotic. Materials “like ‘hot ice’ or ‘superfluid water’ – substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience” would form, according to Berta. We emailed Berta to ask if he could explain these strange materials further.

  74. This thread just got me wondering about something I think Bertrand Russell once said….”Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods, and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.”

    I just wonder how Russell knows this, because it doesn’t seem to be a statement of science.

  75. In reply to #82 by jack.blair.10:

    It may be helpful to approach the question from the opposite direction. What would it take to convince someone that God absolutely cannot exist?

    This suffers the same problem as the other question. Definition, a set of attributes that are meaningful and consistent to be challenged. This is why the religious have a big problem. Any definition of a god posited so far can be shown to be logically fallacious. I see the capital ‘G’ god is the one in your comment. Here have a look…

    The Disproof Atheist Society

    …but it is easier than that, as I’ve already posted…

      1. If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
      1. There is evil in the world.
      1. Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.

    The Christian God, as any Christian will tell you, is an all loving omnibenevolent God, ergo, a contradiction in terms. This is a modus tollens form of logical argument. To expand the argument…

      1. God exists.
      1. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.
      1. A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils.
      1. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.
      1. An omnipotent being, who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.
      1. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.
      1. If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists.
      1. Evil exists (logical contradiction).

    But let’s make it simple. The bible says that if a believer prays, that prayer will be answered. During the first world war, both sides were predominantly Christian. Both sides no doubt were praying for victory, they both held masses at the front line. Only one side won. God does not answer prayers. The same argument can be applied to the sports fields all over the world every weekend.

    I think that if it could be shown that the existence of God were logically fallacious, then one could be confident in rejecting the idea altogether.

    You would think so wouldn’t you? And I would say that was the reason for the demise of all the gods that died off through history also.

    If it were shown that “God” makes as much sense as, say, “boiling ice,” then obviously “God” is a logical contradiction.

    Be careful there, boiling ice isn’t necessarily a logical contradiction…the Boiling Ice…sorry, am just being pedantic, I know what you are trying to say.

    It can be shown that God makes no sense and is a logical contradiction. The attribute that is a major head melt, the doctrine of the trinity does that in one fell swoop and it is a lot of bollocks. Just more example of a logical contradiction with God, but the brainwashed are not using their rational faculties when it comes to believing the woo woo so won’t see it that way.

    Finally, to take this tact is to step onto a very slippery slope indeed. There is an infinite number of things that logically cannot exist. To start disproving them all would be a mountainous task indeed.

  76. ” Because if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.”

    This comment is stupid on so many levels. First, the logical thing to do when you are confronted with a claim that is not supported by evidence is to reject it. You have no obligations to try to come up with hypothetical evidence that could convince you that the claim is true. Second, evidence that can never be found is not evidence. Third, usually believers define their god hypothesis so vaguely that it’s even in theory impossible to imagine what evidence would be enough to convince a nonbeliever that a god exists. Fourth, in many cases believers define their god as an entity for which there can be no evidence.

    If someone is illogical here, then it’s you!

  77. In reply to #85 by Alan4discussion:

    It is not possible to prove a negative.

    Ahemmm….perhaps not a negative, but certainly an absence….modus tollens?. Then it’s a case of ticking off the list one by one.

    A deity’s existence can mean different things to different people. Some claims about the existence of gods or about their actions can be falsified, such as the claim that a god Helios pulls the sun across the sky. Some related claims can be empirically tested: There is evidence of absence for the power of faith healing (which the American Cancer Society also calls potentially dangerous if it replaces proper medical care)

  78. In reply to #86 by flipflop:

    This thread just got me wondering about something I think Bertrand Russell once said….”Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods, and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.”

    I just wonder how Russell knows this, because it doesn’t seem to be a statement of science.

    Go ahead and prove him wrong, produce a better method for obtaining knowledge.

  79. In reply to #90 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #86 by flipflop:

    Go ahead and prove him wrong, produce a better method for obtaining knowledge.

    Russell’s statement seems self-conradictory to me. He believes something to be true, which according to the statement itself, is unknowable. I’m just pointing this out, because it seemed relevant to the original post, and I would welcome any help trying to get my head around it, that’s all.

    But with respect, isn’t your reply a bit misleading? Russell doesn’t imply it is the “best” method, he implies it’s the “only” method. Why are you asking me to produce a “better” method, when all I need to do is produce a “different” method?

  80. In reply to #92 by flipflop:

    But with respect, isn’t your reply a bit misleading? Russell doesn’t imply it is the “best” method, he implies it’s the “only” method. Why are you asking me to produce a “better” method, when all I need to do is produce a “different” method?

    A new or different method will either be better than the current scientific method, in which case science will simply incorporate it into its own structure, or it will be just as good, in which case science might incorporate it as a useful theoretical framework, or it will be worse, in which case science will simply refute it.

  81. Thanks for going to the trouble of articulating the “loaded” behind my “loaded” question. Kinda highlights it as bullocks, no?

    Strangely, I felt divinely inspired while comparing religion and moving the goalpost to a carnival operator. Amazingly, the two are very similar. Some religious just are not aware that they are carnie operators. I felt it to the core of my being and knew it to be true; I felt the same rush of energy that I have experienced when having a spiritual experience. There must be a God since I am incapable of making such an astute observation. Wait! I don’t believe in God so it must have come from within me. Wait again, then I must be God. Look crookedshoes, you were right all along. You are God and so am I!

  82. In reply to #92 by flipflop:

    But with respect, isn’t your reply a bit misleading? Russell doesn’t imply it is the “best” method, he implies it’s the “only” method. Why are you asking me to produce a “better” method, when all I need to do is produce a “different” method?

    Do you have a “different method”, or “better method”, which works to produce reliable answers?

    Is there such an “alternative method”, which is not just:-

    “I have dreamed up this garbage, and claim to infallibly right”?

    I think that was the point.

    Something can only be “unknowable” if it produces no observable or perceivable effects in the material universe. This is a description of irrelevance or non-existence.

  83. I cannot imagine what evidence would convince me of a God, because the concept is irrational. It goes against my understanding of the way things could possibly work.

  84. Concerning the first part of Bertrand Russell’s quote, it turns out he was wrong. Subjectivity can in fact be studied just as effectively by science.

    While it is true that science cannot decide questions of value, that is because they cannot be intellectually decided at all, and lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.

  85. Actually, it would be really easy to prove God’s existence. All he needs to do is create a miracle that even the skeptics could confirm.

    And Chipmunk, you don’t have to believe anything based on bad or non existent evidence. To say that you don’t believe in Santa does not put you on equal footing with somebody who does.

  86. In reply to #57 by OmegaBaby:

    In reply to #55 by Ignorant Amos:
    snip
    I
    I guess it boils down to this: I’m a “weak unbeliever”, and you’re a “strong unbeliever”. I don’t believe in god because I don’t think there is evidence that he exists. You don’t believe in god because you think there is evidence that he does not exist. I personally don’t think there is any evidence of God’s non-existence, so all it would take for me is at least SOME convincing evidence to believe in the existence of god. And if that evidence later proved incorrect in some way (e.g. aliens did it), then I’d become an unbeliever again.

    You don’t consider the horrible suffering and general evil pervading the world evidence that a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent god doesn’t exist? You don’t consider the fact that prayer doesn’t work evidence? The bible is full of statements and predictions that are false. What more evidence do you need?

  87. In reply to #39 by OmegaBaby:

    The trouble is that both scientists and philosophers demand exacting definitions of the things they’re discussing, so saying “God would be proven if X, Y, and Z were true” means that you should have such a definition in mind, even though you haven’t explicitly given it. My point is that what would impress a layman would not necessarily impress a more critical analyst like a philosopher or a scientist.

    Seriously?

    Don’t get so excitable. It just makes you look emotionally unstable.

    If the words “Jehovah is LORD” were found repeated throughout our DNA, that would not impress a scientist?

    It certainly wouldn’t send one to a church. For a start, how did the words get discovered? DNA is made up of only four “alphabets” – the nucleotide bases of adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine – so how can it spell out a sentence containing eleven letters (twelve if you include spaces)? For another thing, no one knows how improbable an event it is, so an isolated incident could just as easily be the rare result of an improbability. It’s not like duplication rarely happens, either.

    Even brushing those aside, there are dozens of competing hypotheses to explain how those words got there, from alien intervention to a former but undetected civilization capable of genetic engineering. It could even be that the universe is older than we thought, and that given enough time, a seeming improbability like this is actually very likely to happen. In any case, it could only be proof by very indirect induction. An actual living, breathing candidate has not been brought forwards.

    I’m sorry, but that would make me a believer.

    Of what? That’s my point. To question things skeptically is not to gullibly fall for the first hypothesis that comes along. And the more extraordinary the hypothesis, the stronger the evidence has to be. The most obvious problem is what is a god, because what our ancestors called a god might have been some kind of alien or super-intelligent terrestrial species we don’t know about.

    I’m not saying your list of evidence isn’t cogent to the discussion – personally, I agree that these examples would put up a provisionally good case – but it leaves the word “god” unexamined, and first you have to pick out the one workable definition of god from about a hundred others, most of which are not workable and some of which are outright incoherent. There’s no “the” Christian god because the christians, through sect wars, divisiveness, idiosyncratic interpretations, and attempts to answer critical skeptics, have come up with several mutually incompatible versions of god. Not to mention the various versions of deism and so on that sprung up in history.

    I’m pretty certain that if “Jehovah is LORD” were found in DNA, that would pretty much narrow down which god we’re talking about.

    So you’ll have no problem listing the qualities and traits of the entity, its independent existence not confirmed on its own, that you so quickly choose to believe in. You can’t act like it’s obvious what a god is, because you haven’t even defined it, much less dealt with the competing hypotheses for the phenomena described. What if Jehova, for instance, was an alien visitor? How would any of your evidence rule out that hypothesis?

    It wouldn’t do diddley squat proving which religion is the ‘correct’ one, but that’s not relevant to the topic. The question was “what evidence would be enough to convince me god exists”. That’s the evidence that would push me over to the believer camp. I have no idea which sect I’d choose…but I’d probably put some effort into figuring out which one is the “true” one at that point. Or heck…maybe I’d start my own sect.

    Why bother with the religions at all? If minotaurs were captured on film in the Alps, that wouldn’t justify believing in Greek myths. Religions are about using superstition to promote a bogus ethics that makes its followers feel better. Even if “Jehovah” was proved to exist, it would be scientific investigation that uncovered it.

    My point is, I’m not a stubborn unbeliever.

    Yawn. Bully for you.

    Seriously, though, I’ve heard the “at least I’m open-minded” retort once too often to be bowled over by it again. The opposite of being difficult to persuade is being too easy to persuade – i.e. being gullible and thoughtless. It pays not to fall into that trap, as superstitious people amply demonstrate.

    I do not believe god does not exist. Instead, I simply do not believe god exists.

    Those are the same thing. Also, define “god” in terms a scientist can use.

    If evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” comes around that god exists, then I will start believing it.

    It’d just be a fact or hypothesis or whatever. After my talk with Ignorant Amos below (and as an aside, I rather would have preferred a response to my last response to you, Amos, if you’d be so kind?), I’m convinced the word god is simply not helpful any more, and a more scientifically defensible concept should be discussed instead. For instance, a consciousness based on machinery (somewhere) akin to the nervous system, which is capable of physically manipulating large amounts of matter or quanta in the world, and which is highly intelligent (or even capable of making predictions of the next scientific breakthroughs for us).

    The most obvious problems are that the word “god” isn’t purely a descriptive word, that over time the number of ways people define it has multiplied ridiculously, and that it has huge personal, ethical, and emotional baggage latched onto it in most of its forms. I almost think I might be persuaded to become an igtheist.

  88. In reply to #95 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #92 by flipflop:

    Do you have a “different method”, or “better method”, which works to produce reliable answers?

    I don’t have a “better” method for acquiring knowledge. But there are other or “different” methods I think. If I read someone’s diary, I might acquire knowledge of what they did last week. Or have I just acquired a “belief” of what they did last week?

    Is that the issue here , that is – when does a belief become knowledge?

  89. Collapsing wave function is not possible apart from the observer collapsing the wave.

    If two atoms interact they collapse each other’s wave function. This proves god how?

  90. Your musings on quantum mechanics , are the same in principle as my musings on any other natural law. The laws quite simply exist. Physical and chemical laws are in place and are undisputed. Does this represent evidence for God. I don’t think so. Certainly not an omnipresent or omnipotent God. The brain is predisposed to seeking explanations and patterns. All we know is that an event took place some 13 and half billion years ago , our explanation for such an event can be guided by science or ramblings where just about anything goes.

    By your explanation, re: the collapsing wave function, why is there effort required at all?

    In reply to #102 by SelectThis!:

  91. Also what is probably evident from my post is that I am no scientist.
    But a physical phenomenon that is objective,consistent and predictable is a natural phenomena. It just is. I accept it , what you are saying in effect , is that such phenomena ( are you selective?, or does that include everything) is in fact supernatural. There are more credible people than myself , that will debate you.

    Welcome!
    In reply to #102 by SelectThis!:

  92. In reply to #105 by SelectThis!:

    We are made INSIDE and image and also THE image of God himself.

    Could you just explain or clarify what you mean here? Many thanks.

    Interesting posts by the way, hope you stay around.

  93. In reply to #100 by Zeuglodon:

    In reply to #39 by OmegaBaby:

    The most obvious problems are that the word “god” isn’t purely a descriptive word, that over time the number of ways people define it has multiplied ridiculously, and that it has huge personal, ethical, and emotional baggage latched onto it in most of its forms.

    That’s it exactly. That’s why I was a little rude to Chipmunk at the beginning of this discussion. (Sorry Chipmunk. I should have edited before I hit Submit.) It always turns into a game of keeping an imaginary ball in the air.

    What IS a god? It means nothing in and of itself. It distorts every discussion it’s allowed a foothold in. It’s a bottomless pit.

    I almost think I might be persuaded to become an igtheist.

    I’m pretty sure I have been an igtheist ever since I began to think about “god” questions, whether I meant to be one or not.

    Remove the word “god” from the discussion, insist that it be replaced with words that have meaning and it all begins to unravel until there’s nothing left at all.

    This is why it’s usually impossible to get them to replace it with words that have meaning. If they do, it’s game over.

  94. In reply to #101 by flipflop:

    Is that the issue here , that is – when does a belief become knowledge?

    That’s pretty much it. I’d put it (crudely) “What can we claim as knowlege?”

    Here’s a wikipedia link Epistemology that can give you an overview. (You don’t have to read every detail. 🙂 I just wanted to give you the idea.

  95. In reply to #111 by Moderator:

    Posts by sockpuppet of banned user removed by moderator

    Heard the term sockpuppet but please enlighten my ignorance- how do you detect this kind of activity?
    I know, everyone’s saying D’uh and doing the facepalm!

  96. In reply to #101 by flipflop:

    Do you have a “different method”, or “better method”, which works to produce reliable answers?

    I don’t have a “better” method for acquiring knowledge. But there are other or “different” methods I think. If I read someone’s diary, I might acquire knowledge of what they did last week. Or have I just acquired a “belief” of what they did last week?

    All you are doing here is forming an unconfirmed hypothesis, which is the first part of the scientific method of gathering evidence. You have not yet sought and found the follow up confirming evidence to continue the process. This is not a different method, It is simply an early part of the same method, at a less reliable stage.

    Is that the issue here , that is – when does a belief become knowledge?

    The process simply progresses through, speculation, observation, evidence gathering, hypothesis, gathering further confirming evidence and repeat testing of the hypothesis, with cross checking the evidence.

    The probabilities of being correct improve as the process continues. Technically & philosophically, we can never be totally certain, but some scientific observations and laws have been tested to very high probabilities so are incredibly accurate for practical purposes.

  97. In reply to #115 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #101 by flipflop:

    All you are doing here is forming an unconfirmed hypothesis, which is the first part of the scientific method of gathering evidence. You have not yet sought and found the follow up confirming evidence to continue the process. This is not a different method, It is simply an early part of the same method, at a less reliable stage.

    This would seem to have serious implications for our understanding of history. I didn’t realise that the study of historical texts was part of the scientific method.

  98. In reply to #108 by SelectThis!:

    I made the claim that we are foolish to deny the possibility, especially given what we can verify about the nature of consciousness.

    Personal opinions on foolishness are not evidence. Consciousness is a physical property of the brain.

    Science is in the business of testing nature and making a faith based implication from the data.

    No it isn’t Science works on empirical observations methodology and repeat testing based on checked evidence.

    I am making the argument that we are foolish to consider anything under the sun as valid, but not allowing a Creator into our consideration.

    This is self contradictory. Either we consider everything or we don’t.

    There is an avalanche of good reasoning to match our current science with Biblical axioms.

    No there isn’t The bible is ancient mythology and full of self contradiction, as well as contradictions of science and evidenced history.

    Why? The Bible continues to reflect our own higher axioms each time they appear. I have shown this with little effort. What is evident determines our axioms. Those axioms must include every possibility until science can disprove any of them.

    This is nonsense. The onus of proof is on those making claims that their gods exit and have properties.

    So far, nothing has disproved a Creator as something we can discount.

    There is no requirement for others to DISprove god claims. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List-of-deities It would be comically ridiculous to seek out thousands of gods and go down the list trying to disprove them all.

    The onus of proof is on those asserting the existence of their gods.
    It is technically not possible to conclusively prove a negative, (but that does not means we should gullibly believe just anything that anyone claims).

    Someone here said that the Creationist must prove God. Not at all.

    This is just an assertion illustrating an ignorance of debating procedures. It does not even define which god is being discussed? Thor? Woden? Zeus? Asherah? Baal? Aphrodite? Ra?

    We must disprove God before we can deny the possibility.

    If you think this is so please go down the Wikipedia list of deities and gods, and let me have your disproofs of all the thousands of gods except yours!

    Anything else is entirely irrational.

    Err no! It is the basic rational procedure. The silly nature of your claim will be illustrated as you work on your list of disproofs of the deities I linked.

    A Creator must be part of the equation, even if that conclusion is not what we want.

    First produce some evidence that your claimed creator exists and of how it creates anything. (Bible quotes are not evidence and neither is rambling verbosity with vague references to authors or videos.)

  99. Very good question, Chipmunk. I’m not sure that I, or anyone else for that matter, can really answer this one and expect to represent all atheists/agnostics or even any subset thereof. I will therefore only try to answer this in the attempt to represent myself, which is itself a very daunting task. I do like to think of myself as an open-minded person, but when I watch a magic show, every time I lose perspective on what just occurred on stage, my immediate thought is to rewind and study frame by frame until I identify where the illusion occurred (When did I lose sight of the card? What moment could I no longer verify that the container is empty? At that moment is there a potential way of filling the container that is not within my view?) If you work backwards like this and make it a habit, it is difficult to actually be persuaded of magic in any form. Once you have seen enough, it becomes easier to spot illusions and you become used to the idea that even if you don’t see the illusion, that does not mean it is not an illusion. There is still the strong possibility that it was all an illusion, but you just missed the switch.

    Having said this, there is a very high standard for me to be persuaded that God exists. If the moon turned bright red and the sky rained frogs, I THINK I would immediately be convinced. Now, this is the part in the debate where my opponent would claim that my standards are not reasonable or obtainable. This argument, however does not hold water since the claim (with most doctrines) is that there is an omnipotent and motivated God (God is motivated since he does desire for all of his subjects to believe in him. God is motivated by jealousy. If god does not feel motivated to have his children believe in him, then God really isn’t a jealous God as the scripture depicts, is he?). If he is omnipotent and motivated, then a reasonable person should expect if not DEMAND that their standards set forth by their own skepticism should be met if not exceeded no matter how drastic an action that entails. A truly Omnipotent being would be easily able to make the sky rain frogs and turn the moon red as described in the bible, and a truly jealous god would be compelled to do it.

    So, are my standards EXTREMELY high for proof of a God? Yes! But that is the only reasonable way to look at it. The fact that God would not be willing to intervene (as he supposedly did 2000+ years ago) suggests that God, whether he exists or not, does not exist with the same set of concerns as he did 2000+ years ago. Therefore, Holy books can offer no weight for how we live our lives and warship God in any case. In order to provide his following with clear morals, a new mission statement is needed, but none has been issued. This really leaves only 3 possibilities.

    1: God doesn’t exist

    2: God used to care, but 2000 years ago, he either stopped caring about his children, or stopped caring about their conduct.

    3: God created the world, but never cared. This would mean that all Religions with religious texts would be completely wrong and fabricated by man.

    I find the first possibility likely, the third plausible, the second HIGHLY unlikely, and any others to be internally contradictory and therefore impossible.

  100. In reply to #119 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #108 by SelectThis!:

    There is an avalanche of good reasoning to match our current science with Biblical axioms.

    No there isn’t The bible is ancient mythology and full of self contradiction, as well as contradictions of science and evidenced history.

    He/she did actually back this up with examples. Unfortunately his/her post has disappeared. Is there any way to appeal this, or at least get to see the posts that were removed, on the grounds that their absence is now problematic?

    I don’t know if I’m allowed to bring this up under the terms and conditions?

    First produce some evidence that your claimed creator exists and of how it creates anything. (Bible quotes are not evidence)

    This I do have difficulty in understanding. Why are biblical quotes not considered as evidence? You might think it very weak evidence, trivial, absurd, even laughable, but it is written testimony to something. Why precisely is that categorically “not evidence”?

  101. In reply to #113 by Nodhimmi: + Pauly01

    In reply to #111 by Moderator:

    Posts by sockpuppet of banned user removed by moderator

    Heard the term sockpuppet but please enlighten my ignorance- how do you detect this kind of activity?
    I know, everyone’s saying D’uh and doing the facepalm!

    A sock puppet is a banned user coming back under a new name or someone trying to use two different names to talk to themselves ( usually as mutual admiration)

  102. In reply to #118 by flipflop:

    In reply to #101 by flipflop:

    All you are doing here is forming an unconfirmed hypothesis, which is the first part of the scientific method of gathering evidence. You have not yet sought and found the follow up confirming evidence to continue the process. This is not a different method, It is simply an early part of the same method, at a less reliable stage.

    This would seem to have serious implications for our understanding of history. I didn’t realise that the study of historical texts was part of the scientific method.

    Historians and archaeologists use scientific methods all the time to confirm or refute dates, with radiometric dating of documents artefacts and sites + chemical testing, xrays, dendrology, etc.

    For example in your diary quote, you could check the handwriting against another sample from that author, or with their finger prints,

    With an ancient documents forgeries can be exposed as hundreds of years younger than the claimed date and events described. History is built on testing evidence. So is crime and accident investigation.

    Quite often forged claims written long after events, contain howlers about people or places which did not exist at the time of the events in their stories!

    That is where a lot of supposed biblical prophesies have been shown to have been made-up in documents rewriting stories long after supposed events. (Retrospective prediction, can be remarkably accurate!! We told you so with the benefit of hindsight!!)

  103. In reply to #67 by Peter Grant:

    This Is Not A Meme:

    ” As a Rationalist, I would accept a logical argument. […] If someone is ever clever enough to come up with one, I will gratefully change my stance.”

    Peter Grant:

    Might it not be more rational to conclude that that one may just be cleverer than you are until some actual evidence is produced.

    Yes, but because logic is an active field I can refer to the counterarguments of other logicians. The point about being a Rationalist is that I accept logical arguments as evidence. I don’t require scientific evidence.

    There is also a pattern over the course of the last few thousand years, which amounts to an overwhelming preponderance of evidence that God (Creator, 3-O, etc) is a logical impossibility. Indian Logic proved this thousands of years ago and there has not been any refutation of it (causality argument). It fell out of fashion until Buddhism picked it up, but was never defeated. Western logic has also refuted god as a possibility, to my understanding most thoroughly in Spinoza’s Ethics.

    I believe there is only only one argument for god that has not been refuted, but it’s not very compelling. On the surface it’s extremely silly and just a novelty of mathematics that will be eventually solved. It has a proper name which I would love if someone could name. It goes something like this:

    1) God is defined as really cool. The coolest.
    2) Existing is cooler than not existing.
    .:God, by definition, exists

    Thousands of years, multiple systems of logic, and that’s the best anyone has figured out to prove god. Not even Deism has any hope being validated, and theism is not even on the board.

  104. In reply to #121 by flipflop:

    I don’t know if I’m allowed to bring this up under the terms and conditions?

    We are dependent on the discretion of the moderators in leaving ANY of a post from a banned user. Some times they remove everything. Occasionally they may leave bits which contribute to the discussion. I considered flagging some of the the extensive preaching and gratuitous bible quotes.
    Moderators’ decisions are not open to discussion.

    (Bible quotes are not evidence)

    This I do have difficulty in understanding. Why are biblical quotes not considered as evidence? You might think it very weak evidence, trivial, absurd, even laughable, but it is written testimony to something. Why precisely is that categorically “not evidence”?

    If you have a look of some of the earlier discussions on the “Historical Bible”, you will find that none of the NT was written at the time of claimed events by eye witnesses, nor was it written by the disciples named as authors. Bible quotes can be evidence of what people believed at various times, but are not evidence of historical events. They are folk-tales and myths.

    (There is a lot of misleading stuff in books by biblical literalists who really, really, really want to believe that the bible is a history book. – just as there is a lot of pseudoscience made up by YECs)

    All of it was written decades or centuries later, with the Constantine’s Roman bishops’ edited version put together at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 selecting their chosen stories from the extensive range of gospels available in numerous competing Xtian sects. There is also the issues of self contradiction and the absence of confirmation of alleged monumental events, in the well kept Roman historical records of the time.

    If you want to understand the origins of Genesis and the history the OT god there is a 15 minute video here:

  105. In reply to #122 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #113 by Nodhimmi: + Pauly01

    In reply to #111 by Moderator:

    Posts by sockpuppet of banned user removed by moderator

    Heard the term sockpuppet but please enlighten my ignorance- how do you detect this kind of activity?
    I know, everyone’s saying D’uh and doing the facepalm!

    A sock puppet is a banned user coming back under a new name or someone trying to use two different names to talk to themselves ( usually as mutual admiration)

    Thanks, AFD!

  106. In reply to #120 by mike.dickey.75:

    Hi mike.dickiey, first I agree with most of what you have to say but I’m going to be quite pedantic with you and would be interested in seeing any flaws in my logic.

    Having said this, there is a very high standard for me to be persuaded that God exists. If the moon turned bright red and the sky rained frogs, I THINK I would immediately be convinced.

    Luna eclpses turn the moon blood red 4 times every year (I think its four, several anyway- as the earth blocks the sun from the moons perspective the atmosphere of the Eath glows red casting a red glow onto the eclisped Moon) and frogs have indeed rained from the sky http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5491846/Sky-rains-tadpoles-over-Japan.htm & http://www.news.com.au/national-news/its-raining-fish-in-the-northern-territory-report/story-e6frfkvr-1225835295781 (this requires only a tornado or cyclone to such up a pond full of frogs and spit them out elsewhere- the sky can even rain cows, people, cars, parts of buildings also). I suspect that the observation of these events (in isolation) have probably resulted in these being biblical predictions rather than the more remarkable prediction the Moon will turn purple with yellow pokadots I’d be a little more impressed with that. That that the moon would turn blood red and frogs rain from the sky at least in some places simultainiously is not that unlikely in fact (we’ve had amphibians for hundreds of millions of years and multiple luna eclipses per year) this has probably happened at least in some geographical locations quite a lot times already. Your example – even from a skeptical persons position this illustrates the problem that reasonable people are convinced by things that are not all that unlikely on the grand scheme of things. Measured against the probability of a god who can read all minds simulataniously, create universes, etc. it is highly likely to come across frogs raining from the sky during a luna eclipse.

  107. In reply to #124 by This Is Not A Meme:

    In reply to #67 by Peter Grant:

    I believe there is only only one argument for god that has not been refuted, but it’s not very compelling. On the surface it’s extremely silly and just a novelty of mathematics that will be eventually solved. It has a proper name which I would love if someone could name. It goes something like this:

    1) God is defined as really cool. The coolest.
    2) Existing is cooler than not existing.
    .:God, by definition, exists

    I think you mean the Ontological Argument but from now on, I will think of it as the Popsicological Argument.

    I always thought P1 was “God is _Super_cool” but other than that, it sounds like the same argument I heard.

  108. I’m curious Chipmunk. You started this discussion but you have yet to establish any parameters. We’re on comment #129 now and it seems only fair that you do.

    What is a god? Please be specific.

    What evidence would be enough for you?

  109. In reply to #122 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #113 by Nodhimmi: + Pauly01

    In reply to #111 by Moderator:

    Posts by sockpuppet of banned user removed by moderator

    Heard the term sockpuppet but please enlighten my ignorance- how do you detect this kind of activity?
    I know, everyone’s saying D’uh and doing the facepalm!

    A sock puppet is a banned user coming back under a new name or someone trying to use two different names to talk to themselves ( usually as mutual admiration)

    Just to answer the other bit sometimes you can spot a sock puppet because their style matches the style of the banned user. If you are a moderator you can see the IPs the users post from so you can compare that to a list of IPs the banned user posted from. Possibly that is done automatically. At least that’s my non-technical guess – I’ve never actually been a moderator.

    Michael

  110. In reply to #125 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #121 by flipflop:

    All of it was written decades or centuries later, with the Constantine’s Roman bishops’ edited version put together at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 selecting their chosen stories from the extensive range of gospels available in numerous competing Xtian sects. There is also the issues of self contradiction and the absence of confirmation of alleged monumental events, in the well kept Roman historical records of the time.

    If you want to understand the origins of Genesis and the history the OT god there is a 15 minute video here:

    flipflop if you want more I highly recommend anything by Bart Ehrman. As an ex-Catholic I thought I knew something about the bible, at least the NT. I was a regular mass goer from age 5 to 15 so that makes 3650 bible readings ! But a few years ago I read Misquoting Jesus by Ehrman and I was totally astounded by how thin the real historical links are between the bible you hold in your hand today and anything that did or didn’t happen in the middle east two thousand years ago.

    Michael

  111. In reply to #128 by susanlatimer:

    In reply to #124 by This Is Not A Meme:

    In reply to #67 by Peter Grant:

    I believe there is only only one argument for god that has not been refuted, but it’s not very compelling. On the surface it’s extremely silly and just a novelty of mathematics that will be eventually solved. It has a proper name which I would love if someone could name. It goes something like this:

    1) God is defined as really cool. The coolest.
    2) Existing is cooler than not existing.
    .:God, by definition, exists

    I think you mean the Ontological Argument but from now on, I will think of it as the Popsicological Argument.

    I always thought P1 was “God is Supercool” but other than that, it sounds like the same argument I heard.

    By coincidence I just saw a nice post by Steve Zara on theological arguments. He is pointing out that if there was any good evidence for gods nobody would be inventing these silly theological arguments.

    Michael

  112. In reply to #132 by mmurray:

    In reply to #128 by susanlatimer:

    By coincidence I just saw a nice post by Steve Zara on theological arguments. He is pointing out that if there was any good evidence for gods nobody would be inventing these silly theological arguments.

    A point he’s been making for a few years now but that never gets old. If there were evidence for….

    Anyway, there have been a lot of very good posts on this thread but my favourite is yours and I think Steve Zara would approve.

    Michael

  113. My favourite being post #80.

    Why believe in Gods before aliens or time-travellers. Gods pose all kinds of problems for physics as we understand it it. Aliens and time-travellers are reasonably plausible.

    Michael

  114. Darn it Michael. You link is better. I’ve watched it three times but now I can’t find it.

    I would like to watch it at least three more times. It sinks in a little more each time.

    If you see this, please link it.

    Thank you.

  115. In reply to #124 by This Is Not A Meme:

    Yes, but because logic is an active field I can refer to the counterarguments of other logicians. The point about being a Rationalist is that I accept logical arguments as evidence. I don’t require scientific evidence.

    Perhaps I’m a weak rationalist then, because I only accept logical arguments if their underlying premises are rational and based in science.

    1) God is defined as really cool. The coolest.
    2) Existing is cooler than not existing.
    .:God, by definition, exists

    Sounds like another version of the ontological argument, all of which suffer from the same basic fallacy of assuming that one’s own logic will hold for describing other ontological possibilities.

  116. In reply to #100 by Zeuglodon:

    After my talk with Ignorant Amos below (and as an aside, I rather would have preferred a response to my last response to you, Amos, if you’d be so kind?)…

    I haven’t been ignoring you mate, though I can understand you thinking I was…your comment will require a measured response and I need to read your links and give some thought to the points you make. Some things are in my head, some things are in my head and need teased out, some things need a bit of research. I am not about to insult you by firing from the hip. It’s the weekend and when in Spain as the saying goes…I will respond though.

    Best

    Paul

  117. In reply to #118 by flipflop:

    I didn’t realise that the study of historical texts was part of the scientific method.

    Well then, you’ve learned something.

    “A major trend of historical methodology in the 20th century was a tendency to treat history more as a social science rather than as an art, which traditionally had been the case.”

    Historians use a variety of sciences to verify or dispel historical claims, e.g. archaeology. geography, chronology, stemmatics, etc…

  118. In reply to #86 by flipflop:

    This thread just got me wondering about something I think Bertrand Russell once said….

    “Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods, and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.”

    I just wonder how Russell knows this, because it doesn’t seem to be a statement of science.

    What Russell is explaining is the the fallacy of the god-of-gaps argument.

    The gapologist claims that because something is beyond the present knowledge of science and humans, others must accept the gapoloists claims about what is in this unknown area. – seemingly oblivious to the fact that, that if no-one knows, that includes the gapologists’ ignorance of what is, or is not, there.

    They also usually fail to recognise that the unknown can have multitudes of possibilities, other than a very remote chance of the one they wishfully would like to hide there, and which they are trying to sell to an audience. (Usually along the lines of: “admit there is a tiny,tiny, tiny, remote possibility I might not be wrong, so disprove it, or accept my claim is a proved certainty”!)

  119. I am rather inclined to agree with comment 129 in regards to the defining what ‘god’ is, as this is something that has come up on numerous threads on this site. You can’t make a move to arriving at evidence for something without first establishing parameters for something, and different cultures have entirely different notions of what a god is and how it interacts with their vision of the universe. That would really have to be addressed before the core question could be answered.

    This bit in the thread however, can be pretty easily answered…

    This I do have difficulty in understanding. Why are biblical quotes not considered as evidence? You might think it very weak evidence, trivial, absurd, even laughable, but it is written testimony to something. Why precisely is that categorically “not evidence”?

    Biblical quotes do not constitute evidence for the same reason the Enuma Elish, the Elder and Younger Edda, The Egyptian Books of the Dead or any other theistic writings don’t constitute evidence for their positions: Because evidence has to be examined and verified outside of its source to be established as true. Becuse if it were enough for a bunch of people to make a claim about something as being true, science and history itself would be functionally pointless.

    All of the books I mentioned are mythical texts that purport events that have not been demonstrated to have ever taken place, featuring fantastical characters and heroes and such that no one can prove the existence of. They are all written testimony to something: a belief that no one has provided evidence for. Just because something is written down and a lot of people accept it as fact doesn’t make a shred of it true.

    If you don’t understand why the bible can’t be used as evidence, then you don’t understand the relationship between myth and fact. It’s that simple.

  120. Where did Chipmunk go??? I think it’s quite arrogant to start a discussion and then just refuse to actually address all the issues being raised.

  121. Quran is sufficient Evidence for the Presence of God. Quran Remembered hundreds of evident scientific and natural signs which are impossible for a human to compile 1400 years ago. it is evident now that, science is in a 100% agreement with all these signs and references.

  122. In reply to #147 by thetruthseeking:

    Quran is sufficient Evidence for the Presence of God. Quran Remembered hundreds of evident scientific and natural signs which are impossible for a human to compile 1400 years ago. it is evident now that, science is in a 100% agreement with all these signs and references.

    The Quran is a document that popped up centuries after either the christian bible or the torah came into existence borrowing from both and proving even less, which is to say less than nothing. That is the truth.

    Prove that science comports with the Quran. This isn’t a site that lets such claims go idle. Feel free to read the mission statement.

  123. In reply to #147 by thetruthseeking:

    Quran is sufficient Evidence for the Presence of God. Quran Remembered hundreds of evident scientific and natural signs which are impossible for a human to compile 1400 years ago. it is evident now that, science is in a 100% agreement with all these signs and references.

    Oh how the deluded are easily fooled.

    Given that statement, you will have no problem supplying a couple of examples?

    BTW, the Qu’ran ain’t 1400 years old…start with that error in your comment.

  124. In reply to #110 by susanlatimer:
    >

    I’m pretty sure I have been an igtheist ever since I began to think about “god” questions, whether I meant to be one or not.

    Remove the word “god” from the discussion, insist that it be replaced with words that have meaning and it all begins to unravel until there’s nothing left at all.

    This is why it’s usually impossible to get them to replace it with words that have meaning. If they do, it’s game over.

    Well, that’s where I’m a little hesitant. I do think some definitions make some sense. It’s perfectly intelligible for there to be a consciousness (an immaterial one, however, I very much doubt) which is omni-whatever, if it inhabits an infinite universe. But such beliefs are unfalsifiable, and anyone claiming them could not do so even with an infinite amount of time, because by definition infinity does not finish, and neither would the investigation.

    Other definitions are obvious attempts at shoehorning “god” into something we do know exists, e.g. god is love or god is the universal laws or god is morality. I think the only reason people do this is to smuggle some other definition of god through the backstage door.

    And naturally, there are definitions that have made specific claims (such as that an entity called Jehovah – be it an alien or some kind of superhuman species – exists and behaves like he does in the bible) that are contradicted by reality. As a result, I’m not sure if these qualifications mark me out as an igtheist or not.

    Also, I agree with your comment 129. And where is Chipmunk?

    In reply to #145 by achromat666:

    I am rather inclined to agree with comment 129 in regards to the defining what ‘god’ is, as this is something that has come up on numerous threads on this site. You can’t make a move to arriving at evidence for something without first establishing parameters for something, and different cultures have entirely different notions of what a god is and how it interacts with their vision of the universe. That would really have to be addressed before the core question could be answered.

    Spot on.

    This bit in the thread however, can be pretty easily answered…

    This I do have difficulty in understanding. Why are biblical quotes not considered as evidence? You might think it very weak evidence, trivial, absurd, even laughable, but it is written testimony to something. Why precisely is that categorically “not evidence”?

    Biblical quotes do not constitute evidence for the same reason the Enuma Elish, the Elder and Younger Edda, The Egyptian Books of the Dead or any other theistic writings don’t constitute evidence for their positions: Because evidence has to be examined and verified outside of its source to be established as true. Becuse if it were enough for a bunch of people to make a claim about something as being true, science and history itself would be functionally pointless.

    All of the books I mentioned are mythical texts that purport events that have not been demonstrated to have ever taken place, featuring fantastical characters and heroes and such that no one can prove the existence of. They are all written testimony to something: a belief that no one has provided evidence for. Just because something is written down and a lot of people accept it as fact doesn’t make a shred of it true.

    If you don’t understand why the bible can’t be used as evidence, then you don’t understand the relationship between myth and fact. It’s that simple.

    I think this can be summed up as: it’s easier to say a claim or to write a claim down than it is to prove it.

  125. In reply to #141 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #100 by Zeuglodon:

    After my talk with Ignorant Amos below (and as an aside, I rather would have preferred a response to my last response to you, Amos, if you’d be so kind?)…

    I haven’t been ignoring you mate, though I can understand you thinking I was…your comment will require a measured response and I need to read your links and give some thought to the points you make. Some things are in my head, some things are in my head and need teased out, some things need a bit of research. I am not about to insult you by firing from the hip. It’s the weekend and when in Spain as the saying goes…I will respond though.

    Best

    Paul

    That’s OK. I certainly think I might learn something from this, and when you reply, I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

  126. I think this can be summed up as: it’s easier to say a claim or to write a claim down than it is to prove it.

    It is, but I like to work my through an idea in discussions like this, to sort of reveal my internal process on the matter as it were. It can get a bit wordy at times.

  127. Like a lot of the discussion topics lately this seems to me like a pretty silly question. You can speculate endlessly on hypothetical examples on any topic. “What if I saw the clouds part and Jesus sitting at the right hand of God” Well that depends, can others see it? Did you take psycho active drugs before your vision? Were you in the middle of fasting or doing other things that stress your body and have been empirically shown to result in religious mystical experiences? The devil is in the details and talking about what kind of evidence might count if we ever saw it is pretty much a waste of time — no matter what the topic — until and unless we have some actual specific evidence to discuss.

  128. In reply to #153 by Red Dog:

    Like a lot of the discussion topics lately this seems to me like a pretty silly question. You can speculate endlessly on hypothetical examples on any topic. “What if I saw the clouds part and Jesus sitting at the right hand of God” Well that depends, can others see it? Did you take psycho active drugs before your vision? Were you in the middle of fasting or doing other things that stress your body and have been empirically shown to result in religious mystical experiences? The devil is in the details and talking about what kind of evidence might count if we ever saw it is pretty much a waste of time — no matter what the topic — until and unless we have some actual specific evidence to discuss.

    Well, I don’t agree that speaking about hypotheticals is a waste of time, because the point about ideas is that there have to be alternatives to compare them with. For instance, if people start claiming that we’ve been visited by extraterrestrials, then any investigation has to compare two hypothetical worlds: one in which there are ETs and the claimant saw them, and one in which there aren’t and the claimant is lying, mistaken, drunk, etc. We can then consider what we would expect to find if one was true as opposed to if the other was, e.g. photographs of the craft, tissue samples from a species without DNA, exotic technology, radio signals reported by SETI, or empty bottles and traces of alcohol on the claimant’s breath.

    The problem with saying we can’t discuss evidence until evidence is present is that this rules out all hypotheses proposed, which results in no progress being made in science. Science isn’t about hoarding evidence and then making theories after the fact. It’s about making hypotheses with testable predictions.

    It would make more sense to me to criticize Chipmunk for the casual use of the word “god” when he then neglects to define it, which is why the question is generating endless speculation in the first place (because people are picking different definitions to argue over).

  129. I think it may be useful to point out that for many atheists the problem of god’s existence takes a back seat to the problem of what’s expected of people, according to believers, should he exist.

  130. In reply to #137 by Peter Grant:

    Perhaps I’m a weak rationalist then, because I only accept logical arguments if their underlying premises are rational and based in science.

    There is no scientific evidence for the existence of life on other planets. However, to conclude this is the only planet with life is unreasonable. The existence of life can be verified scientifically, as for any logical conclusion. As Hegel said,”Everything that exists is rational.” Anything that exists can be studied with science.

    I suppose Rationalism in its extreme asserts that even in the absence of science the Universe is knowable. The same goes for other helpful tools, which there is no reason to do without. Technically, celestial mechanics could be deduced without the aid of telescopes. If I don’t know how to use a telescope properly, it’s best to stick to what I do know. I’m not as familiar with science as I am with logic, and science is still ever evolving and improving. Systemic science is only a few decades old and of critical importance in many fields that confound lay people. With logic one can utilize well understood tools like Bayesian Epistemology or even ancient tetralemmas, which still hold up.

    Of course, logic didn’t land us on the Moon. Some might even say that was a wonderfully irrational achievement of science.

  131. In reply to #156 by This Is Not A Meme:

    There is no scientific evidence for the existence of life on other planets. However, to conclude this is the only planet with life is unreasonable.

    Agreed, but I think this has more to do with the rational assumptions we can make based on our scientific knowledge of cosmology, chemistry and evolution.

    As Hegel said,”Everything that exists is rational.” Anything that exists can be studied with science.

    Well I hope so, and this certainly seems to be the case, but I can’t think of any reason why it has to be so.

    I suppose Rationalism in its extreme asserts that even in the absence of science the Universe is knowable.

    There I have to disagree, I no longer believe that everything can be deduced from first principles 🙁

    With logic one can utilize well understood tools like Bayesian Epistemology or even ancient tetralemmas, which still hold up.

    Induction is very powerful, that’s why science stole and perfected it! 😀

  132. In reply to #31 by Zeuglodon:

    First of all, thanks for your patience. So, to the task at hand.

    But if you allow that a natural god exists, even if only for the sake of argument, then the question of evidence could at least be tackled.

    This is why definitions are so important. In the 60’s, ironically “The Beatles” were seen as gods to many young women, John Lennon quoted as saying this…

    “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first — rock and roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

    …they even had a huge faithful following, but that is not the definition of gods the OP has in mind. So this is why Chipmunk needs to give us a bit of a clue. Evidence that proves “The Beatles” were held by some as gods and they exist is too easy. The same can be said for such worshiped gods as the Roman or Japanese emperors and those lunatics in charge of North Korea.

    ”When John Lennon said The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” they were.“

    Now if it is those ‘Nature Gods’ associated with stuff like the Sun, Moon, thunder, sea, etc., then yes, science has already disproved those bad boys, which is why only the ignorant or kooks still believe in that nonsense and why Ra, Luna, Thor, Poseiden, etc. are the stuff of myth and legends. They were not always thought of that way as you well know.

    “The term “nature gods” may be taken as designating those deities that are distinguished on the one hand from natural objects regarded as divine and worshiped, and on the other hand from the great gods, who, whatever their origin, have been quite dissociated from natural objects; in distinction from these classes nature gods are independent deities who yet show traces of their origin in the cult of natural objects.”

    The god of the bible, for instance, is screamingly, obviously a natural god because his existence could be decided by historical and scientific analysis and by everyday observation (provided, of course, that he was still around). The fact that the relevant passages of the bible contradict modern science, historical evidence elsewhere, and even other passages of the bible, is why we discard it as evidence in the first place.

    Yes indeed, and modern religious folk cannot even claim ignorance in this day and age. The days of Latin only bibles and uneducated masses are well gone. The natural aspects of God have been demolished by science and greater knowledge of the world, but this doesn’t seem to matter to the average holy roller, instead they cling to their God hiding in those diminishing gaps. I guess that’s compartmentalization for you. The semantic contortionism of the pretzelmen of theology never ceases to amaze me with all their immaterial mind mumbo jumbo and the “who can know the mind of God?” crap.

    Yes, I appreciate that, but god is usually defined as some sort of consciousness. Given what we know about consciousness in humans and animals, I don’t think it’s too generous to suggest that it’s existence couldn’t be worked out inductively, provided, however, that the predictions differ from how the world would work if such a consciousness didn’t exist. To paraphrase Dawkins, a world in which a god exists would be different from one in which it didn’t, and if this is true, then the existence of such differences would be helpful.

    Certainly, a world in which a god exists would be different from one in which it didn’t, I’d suggest we know what the later is already. But yet again we are down to the attributes of this particular God. Attributes that can be tested if fall into the realm of natural, or disregarded as nonsense if fall into the category of supernatural. Natural attributes if proven will not define that being checked as divine though, just special. This is why the word god is meaningless. People should stop being evasive. If we are going to talk about the evidence for existence, or lack thereof, we should be using the deity in questions name.

    List of Gods known attributes

    Well, I’d put Ptolemy’s point and the infinite regress card under the more general principle of Ockham’s razor, since both rely on not adding complications which the data can’t justify. Ockham’s razor is specifically about what we can know to be true as opposed to what might really be true.

    I was going to say Ockhams Razor but wasn’t entirely happy with the definition.

    It’s perfectly possible that, say, an omniscient computer could exist that knows what it knows what it knows, etc., given an infinite cosmos (I’m using this term to cover multiple universes, multiverses, and basically everything possible). The problem is that everything we know in science makes it impossible at present to prove that all of the necessary preconditions exist, never mind to prove that such a computer exists, which is justification enough for calling out anyone who claims otherwise because they’re claiming knowledge they don’t have.

    The problem we have is that they refuse to admit they don’t have the knowledge. Everything is reduced to “god-did-it…it says so in my special book”. The most glaring examples of this are “Theological Evolution” and “creation ex nihilo”.

    Only another omniscient being would be in a position to do the test and how long would such a test take?

    I don’t mean that the test would prove such a thing existed. It’s merely that the claim would be instantly disproved by a wrong answer. As for how long the test would take, I don’t know. There might be a statistical sense in which we would accept, if only for pragmatic reasons, that it could get a 100% of 1,000,000 questions right before we give it the benefit of the doubt, but you’re right in saying that this doesn’t prove omniscience conclusively. It would at least prove that the interviewed subject was incredibly smart.

    True, but only if the wrong answer was within the knowledge of a particular tester, other than another omniscient being doing the testing. Interestingly, there is no paradox with having two omniscient beings in the same way there is with two omnipotent ones.

    Any intelligence greater than the sum of that of mankind would past muster, but it wouldn’t need to be omniscient. Even someone from the modern world uncovering a lost tribe in the Amazon might fit the bill of a god, but they wouldn’t be. As has been mentioned in the other discussion, Cargo Cults.

    Yes, I can’t see a way around the problem either. I can only say that I’d be happy if the “omni-” attributes weren’t taken literally, but simply treated as a lofty way of saying god is really smart, really powerful, really nice, and so on.

    I think this is a direction the less literal and less dumb religio’s are starting to go. They can see the problems with all the omni-rubbish and steer away from it.

    In a similar way, we could tentatively suggest that spacetime is flat and infinite, knowing full well that we don’t have all the facts, couldn’t have all the facts, and would be immediately disproved if curvature was discovered. Anyone trying to prove omni-whatever would have to water down their claim before evidence was even possible, so perhaps it’s OK to take the water-downed version instead?

    The same with that list of known attributes I linked too…how can anyone know such things? Oh, that’s right, those authors were inspired by God. So God is a narcissist too. Nothing like bigging yourself up is there? But we know the authors were not divinely inspired as we well know. So there are no known attributes of God to test.

    Theodicy is contradicted before it even begins, because there’s no way to argue unpleasantness out of existence if it’s already happened. Even if it was all a simulation in my head and no one really died or suffered, I sure as heck have burnt my fingers a few times, so to speak, and a theodicist would still be disproved by the unpleasant effects of this simulation on my consciousness.

    The woo woo merchant reply is, “There needs to be evil in the world to know goodness”. A cope out really. That only gets us past human evil, pain and suffering, and only a small proportion of human evil, pain and suffering at that.

    As for free will, that is for another discussion, but personally I think it’s another concept that lost before it even began the debate because it relies by definition on ignorance of how decision-making actually works.

    Agreed, that horse gets a regular flogging around here in any case.

    I think this is a modal fallacy of some kind. I’m not entirely sure of the counter to your point myself, but: if the being made the rock, then so long as he didn’t actually try to lift it, there would be no paradox. This is a bit like the pre-determined time travel idea: a being in the past could causally effect the future, but so long as his effect doesn’t become a cause of his going back in time or otherwise negate what actually happens in the future, then time travel isn’t stuck in an infinite loop or rife with contradictions.

    Okay, let me change the paradox instead

    Can an omnipotent being make a spear that can pierce every shield? Can that same being also make a shield that can withstand the strike of all spears? Spears and shields can be made. Certainly, it wouldn’t even take the maker to have omnipotence to make either an all shield piercing spear or an all spear retarding shield, but not even an omnipotent being could make both because of the contradiction. Omnipotence is a nonsense.

    Those links are to this website by Norman Schwartz. I hadn’t heard of him before I found this site, and I still get the impression there’s something wrong with this guy’s counter, but I’m not sure what it is. What do you think?

    I’m not a great fan of modal logic. It plays with word semantics and all possible worlds. The big stone paradox is hypothetical and not even in any possible world because of God’s immaterialness. Making stuff is darned hard when one is made of nothing I expect.The concept of modal logic isn’t even being considered by all philosophers, most notably of which is one Bertrand Russell

    The problem for me is where would ya go to test such a consciousness. Consciousness’ require brains.

    Well, more specifically, consciousness requires a mechanism. Even if it was proven that brains weren’t the site of consciousness but merely a parallel system to it (and I certainly am not going to believe or make that case), then we’d still be left with the question of what makes consciousness work.

    The problem with God and consciousness, whether it be a brain or some other mechanism, is that brain or mechanism will be a complicated thing. God is not a complicated thing. One of the attributes of God is simplicity.
    Divine Simplicity

    “According to the classical theism of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and their adherents, God is radically unlike creatures in that he is devoid of any complexity or composition, whether physical or metaphysical. Besides lacking spatial and temporal parts, God is free of matter/form composition, potency/act composition, and existence/essence composition. There is also no real distinction between God as subject of his attributes and his attributes. God is thus in a sense requiring clarification identical to each of his attributes, which implies that each attribute is identical to every other one. ”

    Not bad, considering that the inerrant word states God made man in it’s own image. Yet another nail in the capital ‘G’ god’s coffin methinks. The nonsense gets so contradictory it is like trying to run a marathon through molasses.

    Say, for instance, the dualists have a point and consciousness is some kind of extra property extruding into, say, a fifth dimension. The existence of this dimension would have to be proved by mathematicians and physicists, and the existence of the mechanism within the dimension likewise would have to be proved, but let’s assume for the moment that they have been. One reply to your argument might be that, if we discovered that there was a massive system here which produced all the effects that might otherwise look like the work of some invisible superhuman, we could at least agree that this might be what would best explain religious people’s alleged experiences with god.

    Don’t we know what explains religious people’s alleged experiences with god? Neurotheologyis the field of science investigating the phenomena. Then there is Dan Dennets “Belief in Belief”. Then there is the unscrupulous larsony.

    ”The basic concept behind “belief in belief’ is that beyond, for example, “belief in God” there is “belief in belief’ which is a position which considers “religious” beliefs to be essential for a healthy society and so attempts to protect such beliefs from philosophic, logical, scientific or criticisms of any sort.”

    I’m thinking of the parable of the square and the sphere in flatland. Yes, this doesn’t really counter your point, but for Chipmunk, I guess he’d be satisfied that this might be a legitimate way of getting at some versions of the “god” hypothesis.

    Some versions indeed, very narrow versions I’d posit, with very vague definitions indeed.

    Well, I don’t think it leaves us that powerless to explain it. If physical matter behaved as I just described, we could guess that it was caused by an otherwise invisible agent with intentions and consciousness. We’d still have to actually find out how it works, but as a provisional idea, the immaterial mind idea could at least be a useful working hypothesis.

    We can make all sorts of hypothesis for gods, the religious have been doing it since the dawn of humanity… many times over. I think the immaterial mind of dualism is nonsense, but I get your point in the hypothetical proposal you have set. It gets a bit complicated for me when we move along from an immaterial mind to that mind designing and constructing stuff a la Genesis – Deuteronomy.

    Not necessarily. If everybody on the planet reported it, and other demonstrations of power were shown, and – even better – could be predicted or used by researchers, then it would be harder to claim perverted testimony than to claim that something was really pulling off all those tricks. At the very least, Hume’s test would be respected on its own terms.

    Lack of definition makes the whole thing like carrying water in a sieve. BTW, she predicted the Pope would have doubts along the lines of Mother Theresa back in 2011.

    Yes, which is why asking for a definition works wonders for a debate.

    Agreed, hence the crux of this discourse. Our man Chipmunk needs to return and present a working hypothesis and some cognitive definition as to which one of the plethora of gods that existence and which some sort of evidence could suffice. Not for me you understand, for those in our midst that would accept such evidence. To me the word ‘god’ is meaningless, as meaningless as asking for evidence for the existence of an ‘entity’.

    “An entity is something that exists by itself, although it need not be of material existence. In particular, abstractions and legal fictions are usually regarded as entities. In general, there is also no presumption that an entity is animate.”

    “Sometimes, the word entity is used in a general sense of a being, whether or not the referent has material existence, e.g., is often referred to as an entity with no corporeal form (non-physical entity), such as a language. It is also often used to refer to ghosts and other spirits.”

  133. If we take a scientific bite at this, I would not expect any person of science to accept the sudden one time apparition of a deity as proof. There are several substances and states that have the ability to change our perception, which is highly subjective. The idea that the accounts of one person could ever be held as truth is extremely unscientific. Just look at the different historical accounts (from different countries) on the second world war, a war fought less than 80 years ago and you find discrepancy everywhere.
    Since the diety has not been specified I will just give an example. Say for instance if we believe that the diety responds to prayer and takes an interest in humanity. In that case we could design an experiment where we try to answer if prayer is responded to differently if you are a believer or a non-believer and also if it differs dependant on the different needs of the person praying. If you can not disprove the theory you need not try to apply science, like in the case of John Lennox claim (if I understand it correctly) that God exists outside time space and conveniently enough everything else that science can ‘touch’.

  134. I have read every post made so far. I asked the question because I am interested in the answer. There have been several very thought-out and insightful posts made, however, the overarching sentiment that seems to exist here is that no evidence is or could exist that would be so incontrovertible that you could be convinced that there is a god. Many seem surprised that the question would even be asked. I admit that if absolute and infallible proof is required of god then it is unlikely to be found. For many here a personal revelation, voice heard, name written in the stars, or whatever it may be would not be convincing enough. Even looking god in the face you would cast off the experience as a hallucination or convincing hoax. I just wonder when else you have encountered such irrefutable evidence of something before you began to accept it?

    I think the questions raised with regard to god’s relationship to us are very valid. Even if we could determine that there is a god how are we to know what god expects from us or what god’s motivation is in interacting with us? I know that for me to both believe in god and alter my life in any way as a result of this belief I would need to have an evidence that confirmed the existence of god, what god wants from me, and why.

    To tell you a little about me, I grew up in a Protestant Christian church. I believed in God because my parents did. The more I learned about God and what He wanted from me the less I believed. I was taught even in church that I could either believe in God or in science. Given the evidence that was a pretty easy choice for me to make. That is when I became agnostic. If there was a god I was certain it wasn’t the one I learned about in church, and I could find enough problems with the other major religions to essentially rule them out too. I couldn’t see any reason to determine that there was no god as that knowledge wouldn’t benefit me in any way but to allow me tell a bunch of religious people that I was right when I died and found that I had, indeed, ceased to exist. However, I didn’t want to waste my life following a religion if it wasn’t going to bear any fruit in the end. If this is life is all we get why would I waste it following a false god?
    Conversely, if there really are such things as gods, existence beyond this life, and consequence for the way we use our time here it would be very important to find out.

    This, I believe, is what makes finding out if there is a god or not a different sort of question than whether or not there are leprechauns, fairies, or Santa Clause. Other than the remote possibility that there may be presents under your tree, pillow, or the end of the rainbow, the answer is more or less irrelevant. However, if there is a real purpose to this life that extends into eternity this would not be of no consequence. This, if true, would be the single most important thing we could discover in this life. Therefore, the burden of proof is not so much on the believers as it is on me and maybe on god. Additionally, with the answer being so important I might be willing to accept the existence of god with less than complete verification. For me a single, highly convincing piece of evidence may be enough to change my mind. You may agree or you may disagree, but I don’t think I would withhold judgment, even looking god in the face, until its omnipotence could be verified. To do so would be, in my mind, very foolish. I am not that incredulous of anything else I accept as truth. My question has never been what evidence would confirm beyond all possible doubt the existence of god, but rather what would be enough to change your mind?

    (Just for the record: I think God-of-the-Gaps is another way of describing mechanisms we are too lazy to investigate. Just because we don’t understand a phenomena does not indicate that it is incomprehensible, indefinable, or untestable; just not currently understood. I am not looking for evidence that science is incorrect or I’ll have to quit my job.)

  135. In reply to #159 by Billy_L:

    Say for instance if we believe that the diety responds to prayer and takes an interest in humanity. In that case we could design an experiment where we try to answer if prayer is responded to differently if you are a believer or a non-believer and also if it differs dependant on the different needs of the person praying.

    Already been done.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090617154401.htm

  136. In reply to #160 by Chipmunk:

    Many seem surprised that the question would even be asked.

    This is not the first occasion the subject has been dealt with here. It is more the form your question has taken is a bit baffling to many.

    I admit that if absolute and infallible proof is required of god then it is unlikely to be found.

    Yet your willing to give in to a lesser level of evidence? In the knowledge that this is most likely the only life you are gonna have? You bet I’d require “absolute and infallible proof”, at the very least. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A god’s existence is the most extraordinary claim of the lot.

    For many here a personal revelation, voice heard, name written in the stars, or whatever it may be would not be convincing enough.

    Because before the god hypothesis can be looked at, all other less extraordinary hypothesis should be considered first and subsequently ruled out. There are a few attributes right there. A booming voice and ability to write. These are constructs placed on this hypothesis of god by you on the assumption god can talk and write.

    Even looking god in the face you would cast off the experience as a hallucination or convincing hoax.

    Which are both a lot less extraordinary hypothesis than the belief one is eyeballing the creator of the Universe. This is why there is a need to provide a list of qualities for any god being hypothesized. You’ve just given a property in that sentence…it has a face. That rules out the Abrahamic god for starters. See how it works? Looking at someones face claiming to be Yahweh means that whatever it is, it ain’t Yahweh. It also ain’t Adnoartina or Bobbi-Bobbi for that matter…or the plethora of other faceless deities out there. You see, popular culture has God as a man living in the sky with a big white beard and booming voice, but theologians don’t see it that way, they just don’t correct the popular assumption.

    I just wonder when else you have encountered such irrefutable evidence of something before you began to accept it?

    Because again, the god hypothesis is so extraordinary a claim. Lesser evidence for lesser claims I suppose.

  137. In reply to #162 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #160 by Chipmunk:

    Many seem surprised that the question would even be asked.

    No one was surprised. They’ve heard the question countless times. No surprises.

    The question is so far meaningless.

    Chipmunk: “What evidence would you accept for x?
    Response: “What do you mean by x?
    Chipmunk: “You tell me. Now, what evidence would you accept for x?

    You finally showed up at comment #160 with vague allusions to x‘s properties.

    X has a face, although you might have been speaking metaphorically. X can write.

    if there is a real purpose to this life that extends into eternity this would not be of no consequence.

    “X” has a purpose for life and that purpose extends into eternity. Two separate ideas, really. Where on the continuum do you define “life”? Does X have an eternal purpose for bacteria? For coyotes? For pterosaurs? For chipmunks? What could that purpose possibly be? What does life have to do with eternity?

    Conversely, if there really are such things as gods, existence beyond this life, and consequence for the way we use our time here it would be very important to find out.

    These are THREE distinct ideas, none of which rely on the other. So, X is only a god if there is existence beyond this life AND X‘s consequences will be eternal ones, not temporal. X has no interest in doling out consequences in this life. This is excluding a lot of “gods” but still very vague.

    I don’t think I would withhold judgment, even looking god in the face, until its omnipotence could be verified.

    OK. X is omnipotent. I’ll refrain for now from referring you to Ignorant Amos’s swords and shields example. It pretty much straightens out omnipotence claims, but I’m so desperate to understand what YOU mean by x that I’ll just play along for now.

    1) X has a face (possibly a metaphorical one.

    2) X can write.

    3) X has a purpose for “life”. I’m going to assume that you mean humans, but fix it if I’m inferring something I shouldn’t. It almost ALWAYS means humans though, and I find that very telling.

    4) X lives in Eternityville where it has set up a game show with eternal consequences. X has done this very sneakily by hiding in physics that suggest that we are described by physical laws and dead means dead

    5) X is omnipotent, a very impressive word, but an idea that can never be supported by evidence. Also an idea that involves paradoxes after even the most cursory examination.

    Anything else we need to know about X before we proceed?

    How could one piece of evidence support all of these ideas?

    I would be so grateful if you responded without using the word “god” once. Treat it as an exercise.

    I do appreciate that you’re asking this and that you thought your way through your upbringing and that you’re a scientist now. I respect that and understand why you want to ask the question. But you’re a scientist. Would you accept such an ill-defined hypothesis on any other subject?

  138. In reply to #159 by Billy_L:

    Since the diety has not been specified I will just give an example. Say for instance if we believe that the diety responds to prayer and takes an interest in humanity. In that case we could design an experiment where we try to answer if prayer is responded to differently if you are a believer or a non-believer and also if it differs dependant on the different needs of the person praying.

    That would be measuring a particular definition of “prayer”, though. It assumes that God has said “ask whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you”.

    For example, parents don’t give their kids chocolate every time they ask for it. That would be the kind of prayer that’s measured, and I can’t think of many religions where that is how prayer is defined.

  139. According to the Bible, the clearest evidence seems to be the resurrection of Jesus. Disprove that, and Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on! Anyone know of any arguments against the resurrection (other than “duh, people don’t come back from the dead”)?

  140. In reply to #164 by MKBW:

    I can’t think of many religions where that is how prayer is defined.

    Yes. Gods are not vending machines. I’ve heard it.

    How do you define prayer and how do you support that definition?

  141. In reply to #165 by MKBW:

    According to the Bible, the clearest evidence seems to be the resurrection of Jesus. Disprove that, and Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on!

    It’s not my job to “disprove” it. It’s the job of the person making the claim to provide an awful lot of evidence to support it. Unless you can “disprove” Muhammed flying to heaven on a horse.

    Anyone know of any arguments against the resurrection (other than “duh, people don’t come back from the dead”)?

    But they don’t. How would that work? Provide reasonable evidence that they do.

    I am levitating as I write this drinking champagne with a hyper-dimensional alien. Disprove it.

  142. I have read every post made so far.

    Thank you. Several of us have OCD or something and write lengthy responses. I realize many of my posts may never get read even though I spend my limited time writing it. I figure you never know when someone is googling something and will stumble onto something I wrote.

    I asked the question because I am interested in the answer. … Even looking god in the face you would cast off the experience as a hallucination or convincing hoax. I just wonder when else you have encountered such irrefutable evidence of something before you began to accept it?

    Actually, In certain situations I have made a jump to accept something, but usually always there was some sort of grounding in reality. For instance, decades ago I was a juror on a murder trial. A couple of jurors had extremely difficulty concluding that the defendant did in fact kill a man and shot this woman in the head who testified. There were in fact very few gaps in the evidence. The biggest one was the defendant admitting he did it and then others lying. One-by-one each of the three undecided jurors came to some resolution. The first (an older woman) realized that perhaps the little old lady that testified under oath could have been manipulated by her son or outright lied. The next juror needed to overcome her prejudice against black people. The third admitted after the trial that she figured that everyone else seemed so convinced of his guilt that she finally caved in and agreed with the majority. (seriously) When I went into deliberation, I prayed “God I believe this man to be guilty. If he is not, let me be open minded to arguments so I would change my mind. If all the arguments are weak, then give me strength to be the lone juror to hang this trial.” (This was during my post religious/spiritual but not religious days.) Here’s the thing. Even though the woman shot in the head was high on crack, she was able to account and give excellent proof that the defendant shot her and killed the other man. She had a scar from the bullet that she showed. All DNA evidence, and tests, pointed to the defendant being the shooter. All blood spray patterns were consistent with the story of what happened and where it happened. It seemed like a open and closed case, but we deliberated for a second day because a few jurors could not get past their personal beliefs and personal issues to see the evidence for what it was. So to tie up this analogy, why is it when theists see and hear scientific evidence, they have such difficulty acknowledging it. When else have they encountered such irrefutable evidence of something like Evolution or lack of God before they begin to accept it. Why do they hang onto that minor hope of God.

    I couldn’t see any reason to determine that there was no god as that knowledge wouldn’t benefit me in any way but to allow me tell a bunch of religious people that I was right when I died and found that I had, indeed, ceased to exist.

    When you die you will not find out that you ceased to exist, nor will you be able to tell anyone. I think it will be more like the time I sat in the movie theater on the edge of my seat. Malcom X was getting ready to face the crowd. I knew it was the scene in which he was going to die. The sound and pace of the movie seemed to speed up. Then pffffffft, the film bubbled and melted and then everything went white. That was it. A darned blank screen. The lights turned on and we were given an apology and complimentary ticket.

    However, I didn’t want to waste my life following a religion if it wasn’t going to bear any fruit in the end. If this is life is all we get why would I waste it following a false god?

    or any God. There is no evidence you will live after death. Put the God argument aside. All evidence points to you ceasing to exist after death. Turn to neuroscientists for information/science telling us that our consciousness ends when we die.

    Conversely, if there really are such things as gods, existence beyond this life, and consequence for the way we use our time here it would be very important to find out.

    But there is no evidence what-so-ever that any God has intervened in human life.

    However, if there is a real purpose to this life that extends into eternity this would not be of no consequence. This, if true, would be the single most important thing we could discover in this life.

    You have one real choice in life. You can either analyze it to death or live it to your best ability. The time you have to live your life is equivalent to a spit into the ocean.

    Therefore, the burden of proof is not so much on the believers as it is on me and maybe on god.

    Nah, it’s on the believers.

    Additionally, with the answer being so important I might be willing to accept the existence of god with less than complete verification.

    Because your life up to this point has been immersed into this belief. Why do you hold onto something with no grounding in reality? Is building a life grateful of everything being what it is without any magic so much of a stretch? Is accepting the uncertainty of not knowing the answers too difficult that you fill the gaps in with the possibility of a God.

    My question has never been what evidence would confirm beyond all possible doubt the existence of god, but rather what would be enough to change your mind?

    I was an atheist at 18 then became a deist (now an atheist again.) What changed my mind? Ultimately, I accepted the agnostic position that God could neither be proven nor unproven. I figured I may as well believe in God. I realize it was an easy solution because I did not have access to the arguments and facts.

    (Just for the record: I think God-of-the-Gaps is another way of describing mechanisms we are too lazy to investigate. Just because we don’t understand a phenomena does not indicate that it is incomprehensible, indefinable, or untestable; just not currently understood. I am not looking for evidence that science is incorrect or I’ll have to quit my job.)

    OK, but maybe you need to find your answers outside of science. Science had nothing to do with me becoming an atheist. There are plenty of other approaches – history, philosophy, plain ol’ reasoning, and pegging one religious philosophy/belief against another.

  143. In reply to #166 by susanlatimer:

    In reply to #164 by MKBW:

    I can’t think of many religions where that is how prayer is defined.

    Yes. Gods are not vending machines. I’ve heard it.

    How do you define prayer and how do you support that definition?

    Yeah, good question. I guess if we’re talking about prayer to the Christian God, you’d go to how Jesus himself actually defines prayer: The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Here’s my paraphrase… “Father in Heaven, spread the gospel. Do what you want. Provide our basic needs. Forgive our wrongs. Keep us from doing wrong.”

    It’s interesting to note that the only request Jesus says the Father will answer is the one about forgiveness.

  144. Yeah, I realised I answered the question negatively – I should have said “If Jesus rose again, that would convince me”.

    In reply to #167 by susanlatimer:

    In reply to #165 by MKBW:

    According to the Bible, the clearest evidence seems to be the resurrection of Jesus. Disprove that, and Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on!

    It’s not my job to “disprove” it. It’s the job of the person making the claim to provide an awful lot of evidence to support it. Unless you can “disprove” Muhammed flying to heaven on a horse.

    Yeah that’s true. But I’ve had that turned around on me before – I’ve had it put to me that the only reasonable explanation for the subsequent expansion of Christianity is the resurrection. Thus, if I say the resurrection never happened, I’m left with a huge hole in history that I’m struggling to fill. Hence the next quote:

    Anyone know of any arguments against the resurrection (other than “duh, people don’t come back from the dead”)?

    But they don’t. How would that work? Provide reasonable evidence that they do.

    The problem is, that’s not an argument, but a statement. It should be far easier than it is to prove the resurrection never happened!

  145. I’ve had it put to me that the only reasonable explanation for the subsequent expansion of Christianity is the resurrection.

    What reasonable explanations are there for the expansion of Islam? Or Mormonism? Hinduism? Have you studied the history of the expansion of christianity? Wrong ideas seem to act like leavening agents when it comes to humans. How do you explain American Idol?

    The problem is, that’s not an argument, but a statement. It should be far easier than it is to prove the resurrection never happened!

    Nothing comes back to life. We have no reputable documentation of it happening nor a mechanism that would explain it. Dead is dead.

    The only “evidence” for the resurrection of the guy you’re talking about is hearsay written well after the time it claims to have happened. What “disproof” would you accept?

    In reply to #165 by MKBW:

    According to the Bible, the clearest evidence seems to be the resurrection of Jesus. Disprove that, and Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on!

    It’s not my job to “disprove” it. It’s the job of the person making the claim to provide an awful lot of evidence to support it. Unless you can “disprove” Muhammed flying to heaven on a horse.

    Yeah that’s true. But I’ve had that turned around on me before – I’ve had it put to me that the only reasonable explanation for the subsequent expansion of Christianity is the resurrection. Thus, if I say the resurrection never happened, I’m left with a huge hole in history that I’m struggling to fill. Hence the next quote:

    Anyone know of any arguments against the resurrection (other than “duh, people don’t come back from the dead”)?

    But they don’t. How would that work? Provide reasonable evidence that they do.

    The problem is, that’s not an argument, but a statement. It should be far easier than it is to prove the resurrection never happened!

  146. I’m left with a huge hole in history that I’m struggling to fill.

    Then, investigate the history of the claims. Mormons and Muslims should do the same.

    Why are Muslims wrong? Why are Mormons wrong? Unless you believe they’re right too?

  147. For example, parents don’t give their kids chocolate every time they ask for it.

    But parents would cure their kids of leukemia every time they ask for it. Or feed them if they were starving. And parents would not accuse starving, sick children of asking for chocolate when they were asking for help.

    Did you bother reading this discussion or did you just jump in to ask us to “disprove the resurrection”?

    Seriously, we’re not talking about praying for chocolate. Who ever suggested we were? Why is it that asking for evidence is so often met with the implication that we’re spoiled children asking for chocolate?

    I wonder if you’d let your mechanic get away with that line of reasoning.

  148. Darn it!

    I can’t believe I took MKBW’s bait. It has nothing to do with the discussion and I’m not about to go through his particular version of the christian god right now. (MKBW, go do some research into who wrote the bible(s) and then get back to us. You can start with the old testament. If you don’t like videos, you can start [here](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahweh_(Canaanite_deity).

    If you don’t answer soon, I’m going to start to think you’re doing it on purpose. If it’s such an important question, why do you keep dodging it?

    It does demonstrate one thing. He is using language that is designed to avoid the point.

    And you have been too.

    I asked you in the other thread, Chipmunk. I asked you early in this thread. Many people have asked you since. I know I did at least once. You avoided defining “god” in the last thread. You avoided defining “god” in your OP. You took 156 comments to return to the discussion you started and you avoided defining “god” again.

    I’m asking you outright and I’m out of patience.

    What is a “god”? Nothing vague. What are you talking about?

    Did you bother reading this discussion or did you just jump in to ask us to “disprove the resurrection”?

    Seriously, we’re not talking about praying for chocolate. Who ever suggested we were? Why is it that asking for evidence is so often met with the implication that we’re spoiled children asking for chocolate?

    I wonder if you’d let your mechanic get away with that line of reasoning.

  149. I’m having connection problems which means I can’t edit or delete lately. That probably explains a lot.

  150. In reply to #171 by susanlatimer:

    What reasonable explanations are there for the expansion of Islam? Or Mormonism? Hinduism? Have you studied the history of the expansion of christianity? Wrong ideas seem to act like leavening agents when it comes to humans. How do you explain American Idol?

    The expansion of Islam? That pretty clearly was greatly helped by the military expansion during Mohammed’s lifetime.
    “Wrong ideas” in this case would be blatant and inexplicable lies (and subsequent death) by a small group of people with nothing to gain.

    The only “evidence” for the resurrection of the guy you’re talking about is hearsay written well after the time it claims to have happened. What “disproof” would you accept?”

    Wikipedia – “Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another person concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience”. This obviously doesn’t describe the evidence for the resurrection!

    “Then, investigate the history of the claims. Mormons and Muslims should do the same. Why are Muslims wrong? Why are Mormons wrong? Unless you believe they’re right too?”

    This hole has nothing to do with Mormons or Muslims. And I have never even mentioned what I believe!

    “I can’t believe I took MKBW’s bait. It has nothing to do with the discussion”

    If it has nothing to do with the discussion, it’s because I initially phrased my post poorly. I though I corrected it! I apologise if I didn’t do it adequately. Keeping it on topic – what evidence would be enough? evidence of the resurrection. I thought I skipped the whole ‘which God are we talking about?” red herring by stating I was talking about the Christian God. Back on topic!

  151. In reply to #173 by susanlatimer:

    For example, parents don’t give their kids chocolate every time they ask for it.

    But parents would cure their kids of leukemia every time they ask for it. Or feed them if they were starving. And parents would not accuse starving, sick children of asking for chocolate when they were asking for help.

    Did you bother reading this discussion or did you just jump in to ask us to “disprove the resurrection”?

    Seriously, we’re not talking about praying for chocolate. Who ever suggested we were? Why is it that asking for evidence is so often met with the implication that we’re spoiled children asking for chocolate?

    I wonder if you’d let your mechanic get away with that line of reasoning.

    My post about prayer was a direct response to another post about prayer, clarifying what exactly a ‘study on prayer’ would be looking for. My point is that getting 50 believers and 50 non believers to pray for something and see who gets the answers is in no way a scientific study of prayer, and is based on a fundamental misunderstanding.

    The chocolate example is clearly a limited example, and the point is that God in the Bible doesn’t promise to give people anything they ask for.

    To keep it on topic, a study on prayer in this vein would NOT be evidence that would convince me God does exist.

  152. Just had a thought about evidence for the resurrection –

    Wouldn’t evidence that people CAN come back to life be evidence AGAINST what the Bible claims the resurrection of Christ means? The Bible says Christ is unique in that he basically raised himself from the dead. If other people can do it too, Jesus isn’t so special anymore!

    Evidence that people CAN come back from the dead would certainly NOT convince me that the Bible is true!

  153. @MKBW

    I did not mean to imply that you were off topic. I’m having connection problems and wish I could have edited or at least deleted a couple of those posts.

    What I meant about “taking the bait” was that getting distracted by your comments meant Chipmunk could let the discussion ride without explaining what he was talking about, something he’s avoided doing for a very long time in the discussion.

    “Which god?” is not a red herring. It’s an obvious and important question if someone wants to ask about “god”. An even better question is “what is a god?”

    The “christian god” doesn’t get us much further. There are too many christian gods.

    You were not off-topic.

    Comment #174 should have had @ Chipmunk as a heading with an aside to you but I botched it I apologize for the miscommunication. My fault.

    I’ll leave it to others to sort out your biblical claims. It’s been a very long day.
    .

    I

  154. In reply to #161 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #159 by Billy_L:

    Say for instance if we believe that the diety responds to prayer and takes an interest in humanity. In that case we could design an experiment where we try to answer if prayer is responded to differently if you are a believer or a non-believer and also if it differs dependant on the different needs of the person praying.

    Already been done.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090617154401.htm

    Ofcourse it has been done. But since the deity was not specified I chose that example. The problem I find in most religion is that it accepts contradictory statements and then expects science to disprove them. If we were to prove, without the shadow of a doubt, that prayer is not answered a christian theologian could simply make the claim that it is gods will, or part of gods divine plan. This is old news and Dawkins, Hitchens and many more have been trying to shine a light on these contradictions, but it does not seem to shake religious people in their belief at all.

  155. In reply to #164 by MKBW:

    That would be measuring a particular definition of “prayer”, though. It assumes that God has said “ask whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you”.

    The problem is, if you know the scriptures you don’t need to assume anything, because that is exactly what it says in the bible texts. Numerous times in fact…

    Matthew 17:20 Jesus says:

    For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

    …or this one..

    Matthew 18:19 Jesus says it again:

    Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    Matthew 21:21 Jesus says:

    I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

    …”…whatever you ask for in prayer.” seems pretty conclusive to me. So if that means 6 numbers on the lottery, that’s “whatever”.

    …but lets check some more scriptures…

    Mark 11:24 Jesus says:

    Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

    Finally a bit of that fruitbat John…

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

    For example, parents don’t give their kids chocolate every time they ask for it. That would be the kind of prayer that’s measured, and I can’t think of many religions where that is how prayer is defined…

    Christianity for starters…Christian parents are breaking the word of their Lord by not giving their sprogs chocolate when asked, but that should come as no surprise around here, Christians are forever contradicting their own edicts..

    Matthew 7:7 Jesus says:

    “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

    So from that example it can be clearly deduced that Jesus/God/the holy ghost is a fraud.

  156. In reply to #165 by MKBW:

    According to the Bible, the clearest evidence seems to be the resurrection of Jesus. Disprove that, and Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on! Anyone know of any arguments against the resurrection (other than “duh, people don’t come back from the dead”)?

    There isn’t any clear evidence for the resurrection of Jesus in the narrative in the NT. There is a number of un-evidenced assumptions based on some contradictory hearsay accounts of an empty tomb and visions of a risen Jesus, but nowhere in the scripture does it say that anyone seen Jesus rise from the dead. This is a miss conception a lot of Christians have because they haven’t bothered to read the book they place so highly.

    Now if you want a resurrection narrative, read the Gospel of Peter, it’s a pearler. But those in charge of cobbling the NT together in the 4th century didn’t think it worthy of making the editors cut. I can understand why mind you.

  157. In reply to #176 by MKBW:

    Wikipedia – “Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another person concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience”.

    We all know what hearsay is, the point being made is that the bible accounts are exactly that, hearsay. They are hearsay accounts from decades after the alleged event, by all but one, an anonymous author, plagiarized from another anonymous author, for biased political purposes.

    This obviously doesn’t describe the evidence for the resurrection!

    Yippee!!! You’re SO right. So what other evidence is there?

  158. According to the Bible, the clearest evidence seems to be the resurrection of Jesus. Disprove that, and Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on! Anyone know of any arguments against the resurrection (other than “duh, people don’t come back from the dead”)?

    Disprove Odin hanging himself from the tree Yggadsril and impaling himself to get the runes. Disprove Marduk slaying Tiamat and making the world with her bones. Disprove Prometheus being chained to a mountain and having birds feeding on him daily and never dying.

    Sounds silly when you refer to something you don’t believe in doesn’t it?

    And not a one of them would be something I have to prove because I’m not the one making the implausible assumption. Just as you wouldn’t feel a need to disprove my examples because you don’t believe in those gods.

    And by the by, it wouldn’t matter for a great number of christians whether the resurrection happened or not as they are blindly willing to believe a number of other things in the bible far less probable. Perhaps a better angle would be to find something in the bible that has been proven, since even experts can’t agree on whether Christ even existed much less whether he did any of the things claimed of him.

    P.S. According to the Bible? Honestly? How is the account of the resurrection somehow more credible than any other supernatural event in the book? And how does the bible make itself more credible than any other book of faith claims?

  159. In reply to #177 by MKBW:

    My post about prayer was a direct response to another post about prayer, clarifying what exactly a ‘study on prayer’ would be looking for. My point is that getting 50 believers and 50 non believers to pray for something and see who gets the answers is in no way a scientific study of prayer, and is based on a fundamental misunderstanding.

    Your fundamental misunderstanding is that you are commenting from ignorance. Ignorance of the Christian scriptures and ignorance of how the scientific method is employed.

    The chocolate example is clearly a limited example, and the point is that God in the Bible doesn’t promise to give people anything they ask for.

    No, I think chocolate is a good example and it proves that Christians very very rarely practice what they preach…Why? According to the instructions left by JC, kids all over should be getting their chocolate when they ask for it. Some kids I’d wager are praying for that chocolate too.

    To keep it on topic, a study on prayer in this vein would NOT be evidence that would convince me God does exist.

    Prayer is superstitious mumbo jumbo with the purpose courting of some gain.

    Superstition: An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.

    A review of 17 past studies of ”distant healing,” published in 2003 by a British researcher, found no significant effect for prayer or other healing methods.

    All studies aside, intercessory prayer is another example of the omnipotence paradox. Let me show you without using your 50/50, believer/unbeliever example.

    Two groups of Christians are praying for conflicting results, it happens all the time. For the purposes of this analogy I’ll use a real example. Rangers fans who are Protestant Christians and Celtic fans who are Catholic Christians are watching their teams play against each other. Both sets of fans are praying their brains out that their team will be the victors. But both teams can’t win, yet God can do anything, right? Wrong. So, Celtic win 2-0 and both sets of Christian praying fans kick the living shit out of one another, because that’s what sectarian bigots are prone to do. Anyway, you get the picture…intercessory prayer failed the Rangers fans, yet it clearly states in their scriptures that “whatever they want” they will have. Such a quandary. Then the guilt trip is produced. You need to pray harder for the result you want and btw, that’ll be 10% of your income please. Other examples available on request.

    You are aware of the reason Luther nailed his treatise to the cathedral door aren’t you. Intercessory Prayer and the MONEY being charged for it.

    I don’t doubt gullible individuals get some sort of solace talking to an invisible man in the sky. Whatever floats yer boat. But let’s not pretend it works, and because it doesn’t, it means that the accounts of JC are lies.

  160. In reply to #178 by MKBW:

    Wouldn’t evidence that people CAN come back to life be evidence AGAINST what the Bible claims the resurrection of Christ means? The Bible says Christ is unique in that he basically raised himself from the dead. If other people can do it too, Jesus isn’t so special anymore!

    Well your fecked then. Scriptures tell us that Lazarus was risen. Resurrection myths were all the rage in ancient times.

    Evidence that people CAN come back from the dead would certainly NOT convince me that the Bible is true!

    It’s a lot easier than that to prove the bible isn’t true. Can I ask you if you’ve read it?

    You want the story of such an event to be unique? Yet it isn’t.

    Ancient accounts tell of an important figure whose birth would be heralded by a star in the heavens, a god who would later judge the dead. He would be murdered in a betrayal by one close to him, his body hidden away — though not for long, as he would return in a miraculous resurrection to begin an eternal reign in heaven.

    To his legions of followers, he (and his resurrection) came to symbolize the promise of eternal life.

    Sound familiar?

    The figure, Osiris, was the supreme god in ancient Egypt, only one of many pagan gods worshipped thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. Indeed, though Jesus is currently the best-known example of a resurrected figure, he is far from the only one.

  161. MKBW,

    Man, oh man, you are having your ass whipped. Oh the humanity! You seemingly have not thought about anything you are asserting and you (hopefully) will come to realize that Amos is really really good at this and really really smart. Preparation would help. I suggest you read the book you are quoting from. Man, if I had a dollar for every believer I have had to say that to.

    If you decide to do this again, you might want to know something about EITHER side of the argument.

    BTW??? Another “hit and run” on the same thread????

  162. In reply to #180 by Billy_L:

    Ofcourse it has been done. But since the deity was not specified I chose that example.

    That is the issue at hand here. A god would need to be specified for any experiment to be advanced. With all the gods out there, how would a particular one know to be listening? Isn’t that we all have names? So we can be identified. It’s no use everyone praying to Allah if there is only Yahweh there to listen. That experiment would be doomed to failure before it started.

    The problem I find in most religion is that it accepts contradictory statements and then expects science to disprove them.

    Indeed, I’m flabbergasted by this too.

    If we were to prove, without the shadow of a doubt, that prayer is not answered a christian theologian could simply make the claim that it is gods will, or part of gods divine plan.

    Never mind “could”…they really do…and by doing so, the conniving bastards cause lots of innocents to lose their lives.

    This is old news and Dawkins, Hitchens and many more have been trying to shine a light on these contradictions, but it does not seem to shake religious people in their belief at all.

    Yep, they’d rather stick their fingers in their ears and find the nearest hole in the sand in which to bury theirs heads than face the truth that they have been taken in by the religious hustle.

  163. “What would convince me there is a god?”

    That’s a nice little thought experiment. But every time I think about this question I end up siding with Bertrand Russell. Even if god itself appeared in front of me I would have to go: “Not enough evidence, God. Not enough evidence.”

    If god appeared in physical form, it would mean it is a natural entity and not supernatural. That to me does not sound like a god-like being. On the other hand, if it appeared in some kind of a supernatural form, something beyond the natural, then I could not perceive it since my senses are tuned only to perceive natural things.

    However, the biggest problem with the question of evidence for a god is still, as many here have already said, how to define god. There is no way to determine if an event, phenomenon or appearance is evidence for a god if we have no idea what we are specifically searching for. If the unlikely event came true that I saw a bizzare “thing” floating in the air in front of me, and I could with confidence determine that it is supernatural (whatever that might mean), it would still not mean that it is a god. If it looked red, sparkly, transparent and plasma-like, how would I know that those properties apply to god? No, I cannot come up with any evidence that would convince me that a god exists. But the problem isn’t the failure of my imagination, but the lack of definition for what a god is. Without that I cannot tell you what kind of evidence to search for.

  164. “What would convince me there is a god?”

    That’s a nice little thought experiment. But every time I think about this question I end up siding with Bertrand Russell. Even if god itself appeared in front of me I would have to go: “Not enough evidence, God. Not enough evidence.”

    If god appeared in physical form, it would mean it is a natural entity and not supernatural. That to me does not sound like a god-like being. On the other hand, if it appeared in some kind of a supernatural form, something beyond the natural, then I could not perceive it since my senses are tuned only to perceive natural things.

    However, the biggest problem with the question of evidence for a god is still, as many here have already said, how to define god. There is no way to determine if an event, phenomenon or appearance is evidence for a god if we have no idea what we are specifically searching for. If the unlikely event came true that I saw a bizzare “thing” floating in the air in front of me, and I could with confidence determine that it is supernatural (whatever that might mean), it would still not mean that it is a god. If it looked red, sparkly, transparent and plasma-like, how would I know that those properties apply to god? No, I cannot come up with any evidence that would convince me that a god exists. But the problem isn’t the failure of my imagination, but the lack of definition for what a god is. Without that I cannot tell you what kind of evidence to search for.

  165. In reply to #184 by achromat666:

    And by the by, it wouldn’t matter for a great number of christians whether the resurrection happened or not as they are blindly willing to believe a number of other things in the bible far less probable. Perhaps a better angle would be to find something in the bible that has been proven, since even experts can’t agree on whether Christ even existed much less whether he did any of the things claimed of him.

    This is a very important point that is widely overlooked by a lot of the faithful. The resurrection was not a necessary event for Christianity to get going. The only requirement necessary to kick start the Jewish sect of Christianity was to get the people to believe that it happened. A lot easier in those ancient times than it would be today may I add.

    How is the account of the resurrection somehow more credible than any other supernatural event in the book? And how does the bible make itself more credible than any other book of faith claims?

    Again, another overlooked point by many Christians. Especially when there is no account of the resurrection in the friggin’ book in the first place. First century Gnostic Christians did not believe in a physically risen Jesus. They lost the argument though and their belief made heretical.

    Even Christians have to admit the inherent problems in so-called divinely inspired inerrant texts.

    “It is not surprising that doctrinal presuppositions make it difficult to read the New Testament evidence concerning the resurrection appearances with some degree of clarity and sympathy. It is no easy task to separate the “Jesus of Faith” from biographical inquiry. It may be difficult to achieve a certain perspective on the development of traditions about Jesus, and to realize that one of our sources is close to those early resurrection experiences, and others, more remote. Readers may not be aware that only one of our sources comes from a person who claims actually to have seen the risen Christ, and that this source is not one of the gospels, but 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, written by the apostle Paul; and further that this source is also the earliest of all.”

    http://www.paulonpaul.org/jesus/narr_3_resurr.htm

  166. In reply to #5 by susanlatimer:

    I’m glad I did. It’s a good discussion topic. A topic that needs to be met head on.

    I quite agree. This is an important issue. I am an atheist but I would still like to know what evidence would prove the existence of “god”.
    The person I sit next to at school is a very strict Christian, and she and I enjoy trying to persuade each other that god does/doesn’t exist. However; her method of arguing is simply to deny everything I say. So whenever I cannot answer a question she considers it a personal triumph; and she has brought up this point a number of times now.

    It would be lovely to have a simple but impossible piece of theoretical “evidence” to throw back at her…

  167. In reply to #165 by MKBW:

    According to the Bible, the clearest evidence seems to be the resurrection of Jesus. Disprove that, and Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on! Anyone know of any arguments against the resurrection (other than “duh, people don’t come back from the dead”)?

    After reading this thread, particularly IA’s posts, it would seam Christianity doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Wouldn’t you agree? Wont you consider that the resurrection story is a myth that you believe simply because it was taught to you as a youngster?

  168. In reply to #158 by Ignorant Amos:

    Thanks for the great reply. I’ll try to do it justice, and as I note at the end, I think I’m changing my mind about my position, and finally seeing what you mean by identifying as an igtheist.

    This is why definitions are so important. In the 60’s, ironically “The Beatles” were seen as gods to many young women… they even had a huge faithful following, but that is not the definition of gods the OP has in mind. So this is why Chipmunk needs to give us a bit of a clue. Evidence that proves “The Beatles” were held by some as gods and they exist is too easy. The same can be said for such worshiped gods as the Roman or Japanese emperors and those lunatics in charge of North Korea.

    Well, I think it’s that those “definitions” (the Beatles and the lunatics of North Korea) are usually meant to be taken metaphorically (though goodness knows what goes through the minds of the dictators of that country). Otherwise, I think we’ve crystallized the point by now that the word “god” needs to be defined each time it appears, because people seem to assume it’s obvious what one is.

    Now if it is those ‘Nature Gods’ associated with stuff like the Sun, Moon, thunder, sea, etc., then yes, science has already disproved those bad boys, which is why only the ignorant or kooks still believe in that nonsense and why Ra, Luna, Thor, Poseiden, etc. are the stuff of myth and legends. They were not always thought of that way as you well know.

    Even those gods are simply superhumans with an aura of power around them, though, wouldn’t you agree? If a Nordic bloke appeared on your doorstep, claimed he was Thor, wielded a big hammer, and made lightning strike wherever he wanted, you’d probably be impressed (if only because he had a pretty good trick). The problem is that then, one culture’s concept of god has been exposed as something perfectly intelligible – a superhuman with unusual causal powers. But then why the worship, why the reverence, why the warm and fuzzy glow that the word “god” seems to inspire? The conclusion is that these aren’t just specimens that would require a new branch of biology (“This one here is Dei thorii, of the Nordiciae family of the order Borealotheoidae…”). People who use the term “god” are bringing connotations to the table, and in spadefuls.

    The god of the bible, for instance, is screamingly, obviously a natural god because his existence could be decided by historical and scientific analysis and by everyday observation (provided, of course, that he was still around). The fact that the relevant passages of the bible contradict modern science, historical evidence elsewhere, and even other passages of the bible, is why we discard it as evidence in the first place.

    Yes indeed, and modern religious folk cannot even claim ignorance in this day and age. The days of Latin only bibles and uneducated masses are well gone. The natural aspects of God have been demolished by science and greater knowledge of the world, but this doesn’t seem to matter to the average holy roller, instead they cling to their God hiding in those diminishing gaps. I guess that’s compartmentalization for you. The semantic contortionism of the pretzelmen of theology never ceases to amaze me with all their immaterial mind mumbo jumbo and the “who can know the mind of God?” crap.

    Verbal games are what this has devolved to, but this isn’t because of some quirk of modernity (well, it is, but that’s about social attitudes). This is because every believer from here unto the past has accepted a half-baked concept (I’ll explain this in more detail below). “Jehovah” was simply a label for “big superhuman with a giant ego”.

    Yes, I appreciate that, but god is usually defined as some sort of consciousness. Given what we know about consciousness in humans and animals, I don’t think it’s too generous to suggest that it’s existence couldn’t be worked out inductively, provided, however, that the predictions differ from how the world would work if such a consciousness didn’t exist. To paraphrase Dawkins, a world in which a god exists would be different from one in which it didn’t, and if this is true, then the existence of such differences would be helpful.

    Certainly, a world in which a god exists would be different from one in which it didn’t, I’d suggest we know what the later is already. But yet again we are down to the attributes of this particular God. Attributes that can be tested if fall into the realm of natural, or disregarded as nonsense if fall into the category of supernatural. Natural attributes if proven will not define that being checked as divine though, just special. This is why the word god is meaningless. People should stop being evasive. If we are going to talk about the evidence for existence, or lack thereof, we should be using the deity in questions name.

    I’m not sure even this would be helpful. People have a concept of “divinity”, but not only is there no such thing in the real world; there’s no way the concept can survive scrutiny, because – like free will – it relies on people not scrutinizing it. In other words, people who talk about divine this-that-and-the-other are not describing anything about the world at large, but are describing how a superhuman makes them feel.

    Think about it. “Divine” is not a neutral word, and neither is “god”. Take the fuzzy feelings away, and you’ve got a magic superhuman with a judgemental attitude. It’s like the Elves in Lords and Ladies (a Discworld novel), who cast a “glamour” over their victims to make them feel worthless before the Elves simply take advantage of them.

    List of Gods known attributes

    Notice that “just” and “merciful” were contradictory in that? Apparently, god doesn’t punish even those who deserve it… except when they do deserve it. And most of the traits hit the same problem we’ve been discussing.

    The obvious problem with the list is the fact that it’s an unrealistic psychological profile (god is strong, god is just, god is merciful). Not once does he even indicate how you would recognize a god if you saw one, with your eyes or with any other sense organs.

    True, but only if the wrong answer was within the knowledge of a particular tester, other than another omniscient being doing the testing. Interestingly, there is no paradox with having two omniscient beings in the same way there is with two omnipotent ones.

    Well, since no one in existence is omniscient, I think it’s safe to say that’s a dead end, too. Really, this omni-stuff is a non-starter, like you said.

    The woo woo merchant reply is, “There needs to be evil in the world to know goodness”. A cope out really. That only gets us past human evil, pain and suffering, and only a small proportion of human evil, pain and suffering at that.

    I think that’s giving them too much credit. I don’t need to burn my fingers to enjoy Mozart. Pain and pleasure run on two different kinds of circuitry in the brain. There are people who don’t feel any pain at all, and if only the environment didn’t conspire to kill them, who can say they would be living worse lives as a result?

    Okay, let me change the paradox instead

    Can an omnipotent being make a spear that can pierce every shield? Can that same being also make a shield that can withstand the strike of all spears? Spears and shields can be made. Certainly, it wouldn’t even take the maker to have omnipotence to make either an all shield piercing spear or an all spear retarding shield, but not even an omnipotent being could make both because of the contradiction. Omnipotence is a nonsense.

    I agree completely that the contradiction would be fatal. It also falls afoul of the infinite regress, because whatever trick you thought up, it would always be possible to think up an even bigger and better trick to surpass that one, so you could never prove it was omnipotent.

    I’m not a great fan of modal logic. It plays with word semantics and all possible worlds. The big stone paradox is hypothetical and not even in any possible world because of God’s immaterialness. Making stuff is darned hard when one is made of nothing I expect.The concept of modal logic isn’t even being considered by all philosophers, most notably of which is one Bertrand Russell

    Yeah, I tried to tackle that link you provided. I can’t say I enjoyed reading it, and it was opaque to me for the most part.

    The problem with God and consciousness, whether it be a brain or some other mechanism, is that brain or mechanism will be a complicated thing. God is not a complicated thing. One of the attributes of God is simplicity.

    Divine Simplicity

    Ah, now, that I don’t buy for a single minute. It’s easy to say “God is simple”, but frankly if people are going to say that about a thinking mind that has intentions, interests, and the ability to intervene, then I think they’re using verbal trickery, and not particularly good trickery at that.

    “According to the classical theism of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and their adherents, God is radically unlike creatures in that he is devoid of any complexity or composition, whether physical or metaphysical. Besides lacking spatial and temporal parts, God is free of matter/form composition, potency/act composition, and existence/essence composition. There is also no real distinction between God as subject of his attributes and his attributes. God is thus in a sense requiring clarification identical to each of his attributes, which implies that each attribute is identical to every other one. ”

    That’s a good description of something that doesn’t exist, eh? “Free of matter/form composition, potency/act composition, and existence/essence composition”…

    Not bad, considering that the inerrant word states God made man in it’s own image. Yet another nail in the capital ‘G’ god’s coffin methinks. The nonsense gets so contradictory it is like trying to run a marathon through molasses.

    Although given the sort of arguments his believers put forward, “simple” might be about right…

    Don’t we know what explains religious people’s alleged experiences with god? Neurotheologyis the field of science investigating the phenomena. Then there is Dan Dennets “Belief in Belief”. Then there is the unscrupulous larsony.

    I didn’t mean that kind of spiritual experience, as if to imply that god causes temporal lobe epilepsy or something. I meant that they simply encounter this thing at work in the environment and call it “god”, so if anyone asks “What’s god?” they simply point and say “That is.” Of course, “this” is essentially a superhuman at large, but more on this below.

    We can make all sorts of hypothesis for gods, the religious have been doing it since the dawn of humanity… many times over. I think the immaterial mind of dualism is nonsense, but I get your point in the hypothetical proposal you have set. It gets a bit complicated for me when we move along from an immaterial mind to that mind designing and constructing stuff a la Genesis – Deuteronomy.

    I think Kant made the case that the designer analogy – more often used for a creator argument – would actually support a divine architect, not a creator. By analogy with humans designing things, the designer would have to use material already present and exploit its properties. Humans don’t create metal – they take it from the environment and fashion it into watches. So the watch analogy of Paley takes another hit.

    Even if there was a creature that could “create” matter from nothing (what do believers even visualize when they say that?), it would have to be exploiting something in its environment. The phrase “creating stuff” is simply a placeholder description until someone actually analyzes the process. Magic is simply physics which hasn’t been sufficiently analysed.

    Yes, which is why asking for a definition works wonders for a debate.

    Agreed, hence the crux of this discourse. Our man Chipmunk needs to return and present a working hypothesis and some cognitive definition as to which one of the plethora of gods that existence and which some sort of evidence could suffice. Not for me you understand, for those in our midst that would accept such evidence. To me the word ‘god’ is meaningless, as meaningless as asking for evidence for the existence of an ‘entity’.

    Yes, I’m starting to come around to your way of thinking. Our discussion has effectively reduced the lofty “god” to a superhuman architect that casts a glamour on those around it. But people use the word as though it had a precise meaning. Maybe that precise meaning is all in their minds?

    For instance, “gods” have huge moral significance. They’re treated as moral superiors, and to criticize one is very much like swearing at a monarch or a noble. Then people’s instincts take over, and they bend at the knees and behave remarkably like court toadies trying to win favours with the king, just to get his permission to wield authority on lesser mortals.

    In The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker outlines different models for how people understand relationships in moral terms – a kind of moral grammar, if you will. He includes a framework from Shweder, another from Haidt, and a third from Fiske, and in the latter two, one of the models is “Authority Ranking” and “Authority/Respect”. I won’t reproduce all the details, but in summary, it’s the dominance hierarchy mindset in humans. Those feelings people get when they just can’t say anything bad in front of the Queen, or those cries of blasphemy and insults when earthly and divine “kings” are not given respect, fall right into the model.

    The thing is that it’s a mental trick, not a definition of the person being revered but a mindset of the person revering them. Myths of “divine essence” are just projections of the speaker’s feelings, not real things in the world outside. So once again the word “god” isn’t simply a label for a real-world phenomenon. It’s more a description of the speaker’s attitude towards what is essentially a superhuman, shoved beyond the reach of evidence so that the emotional and moral feelings are protected from reality (self-deception at its finest).

    In conclusion, I think I am identifying as an igtheist, because the purely “atheist” epithet implies there’s a specific thing or set of things called “gods” which are distinct from, say, invisible and conscious superhuman architects with human feelings and thoughts. But the distinction between this and a “god” is not out there, like the distinction between two species of beetle or two types of rock formation would be. It’s in the mind of the beholder – in the form of a moral instinct, a few feelings, and confabulations of “divine essences” and so on to project said feelings onto the outside world, using a combination of self-deception and of avoiding any actual analysis of one’s own concepts – so discussing proof and disproof is beside the point.

    Now we can talk about proving the existence of invisible and conscious superhuman architects with human feelings and thoughts. Not gods, though.

  169. I disagree with you last statement.Evidence can be direct with our weak senses or indirect by means of instrumentation. I need to see some sort of evidence in the observable natural universe before I accept any existence of any god. Until such evidence is found, I reject the existence of a god.

  170. To the rmano comment: I wish people would stop using the phrase “THE Theory of Evolution.” There is no such overall theory. There are however, a number of hypotheses and theories in the field of Evolutionary Biology some of which have been falsified by the evidence and some have been well supported by the evidence. The phrase “THE Theory of Evolution” gives creationists huge target for their uneducated and illogical criticisms. Evolution simply means change and you could have ample evidence for change.

  171. In reply to #193 by Zeuglodon:

    Well, I think it’s that those “definitions” (the Beatles and the lunatics of North Korea) are usually meant to be taken metaphorically (though goodness knows what goes through the minds of the dictators of that country).

    There’s no reason not to think that they (the dictators) genuinely believe they are gods or others genuinely believe the Beatles are gods. It’s been going on a long time. It’s got a lot to do with press and repetition.
    ;
    List of People Who Have Been Considered Dieties

    If a Nordic bloke appeared on your doorstep, claimed he was Thor, wielded a big hammer, and made lightning strike wherever he wanted, you’d probably be impressed (if only because he had a pretty good trick). The problem is that then, one culture’s concept of god has been exposed as something perfectly intelligible – a superhuman with unusual causal powers. But then why the worship, why the reverence, why the warm and fuzzy glow that the word “god” seems to inspire?

    Precisely. But never forget that it’s the warm and fuzzy glow that stops people from thinking about why we could call anything a god. We’ve become so accustomed to it through culture (repetition of a vagueness with some magical underpinnings) that many commenters here who don’t believe in gods have some very good responses with examples of evidence they would accept. I believe that’s a mistake. Our only response should be “What do you mean?”

    You’ll notice that Chipmunk hasn’t answered that question yet. This is how the “god” concept survives.

    People who use the term “god” are bringing connotations to the table, and in spadefuls.

    Yes. Again, the only reasonable response is “What do you mean?”

    I’m not sure even this would be helpful. People have a concept of “divinity”, but not only is there no such thing in the real world; there’s no way the concept can survive scrutiny, because – like free will – it relies on people not scrutinizing it. In other words, people who talk about divine this-that-and-the-other are not describing anything about the world at large, but are describing how a superhuman makes them feel.

    Exactly. The most annoying part about that is that now all we have is how super their superhuman makes them feel, or worse, they are just repeating an explanation someone gave them for why they occcasionally feel super or mystified about something. It’s off-the-rack sentiment without connecting the dots. It’s a game of subjective one upmanship that can never be won. It’s sort of like someone saying “but I LOVE this crappy pop song … you wouldn’t understand. You don’t care about meaning…. ” Not only does it lack reason, it lacks artistic value. It’s cheap. Of course, you can’t make that argument as it’s well off the path, but you don’t have to stand for it.

    This is because every believer from here unto the past has accepted a half-baked concept

    Yep. And too many non-believers are willing to respond to the half-baked concept out of habit. It makes for a tortuous, cumbersome game of chasing our own tails that gets us nowhere. We get sucked into keeping the imaginary ball in the air. We do it in our sleep. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors. I can’t help myself sometimes.)

    Well, since no one in existence is omniscient, I think it’s safe to say that’s a dead end, too. Really, this omni-stuff is a non-starter, like you said.

    Of course it is. It’s a prefix that fixes everything. It’s a language cheat. Like immaterial, infinite, eternal. What do those claims even mean? Not that “infinite” and “eternal” aren’t useful terms but only for honest people like physicists and, to be fair, some philosophers who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Not people who blurt it out as an assertion as though it had automatic meaning that wins the game. They don’t have to do the dirty work. They can just say lofty things and make things up from there. They don’t even consider the implications. They don’t have to. It’s just another version of abracadabra for them.

    It’s more a description of the speaker’s attitude towards what is essentially a superhuman, shoved beyond the reach of evidence so that the emotional and moral feelings are protected from reality (self-deception at its finest).

    Uh huh. And too many atheists unwittingly play along. Which is why it’s good to be an igtheist, and the only position that makes sense.

    Ah, now, that I don’t buy for a single minute. It’s easy to say “God is simple”, but frankly if people are going to say that about a thinking mind that has intentions, interests, and the ability to intervene, then I think they’re using verbal trickery, and not particularly good trickery at that.

    Terrible trickery. You’ll notice that they never bother to say how simple or how complicated, or even what we mean by simple and complicated. They just say “simple”. More blurting. Sorry to repeat myself (I’ll do it again at the end, I’m sure) but what do you mean by “simple”?

    Now we can talk about proving the existence of invisible and conscious superhuman architects with human feelings and thoughts. Not gods, though

    Bingo. 🙂

    I’m always left with these fundamental questions:

    1) What do you mean?

    2) Why call it a god?

    It always seems to be the case that they call it a god because they don’t really know what they mean.

    And “god” means they never have to.

  172. I wish I’d spelled deities properly. Damn middle fingers.

    Also, I should have said physicists and mathematicians and some philosophers

    Ask a mathematican about infinties and they’ll be happy to explain. Ask them about an infinite being and see what happens.

  173. In reply to #196 by susanlatimer:

    Uh huh. And too many atheists unwittingly play along. Which is why it’s good to be an igtheist, and the only position that makes sense.

    Gosh, you’re right. While we can criticise Chipmunk’s reasoning, we can thank him for this thread turning me (and opthers, I’m sure) into igtheists.

  174. In reply to #195 by cbrown:

    I wish people would stop using the phrase “THE Theory of Evolution.”

    People should use the proper title: – The theory of evolution by means of natural selection.

    There is no such overall theory.

    There is a scientific theory of natural selection, – sloppy use of abbreviations and language, causes confusion.

    There are however, a number of hypotheses and theories in the field of Evolutionary Biology some of which have been falsified by the evidence and some have been well supported by the evidence.

    There are many specialist aspects and details, but the basic natural selection is a valid underlying theory.

    The phrase “THE Theory of Evolution” gives creationists huge target for their uneducated and illogical criticisms.

    It certainly does!

    Evolution simply means change and you could have ample evidence for change.

    That is why creationists misuse the term, and create “random”, strawman versions, without including the mechanisms of selection – OR alternatively – claim the mechanism works by god-did-it! -(without supplying any explanation of details of this god-did-it!).

  175. In reply to #179 by susanlatimer:

    @MKBW

    I did not mean to imply that you were off topic. I’m having connection problems and wish I could have edited or at least deleted a couple of those posts.

    What I meant about “taking the bait” was that getting distracted by your comments meant Chipmunk could let the discussion ride without explaining what he was talking about, something he’s avoided doing for a very long time in the discussion.

    “Which god?” is not a red herring. It’s an obvious and important question if someone wants to ask about “god”. An even better question is “what is a god?”

    The “christian god” doesn’t get us much further. There are too many christian gods.

    You were not off-topic.

    Comment #174 should have had @ Chipmunk as a heading with an aside to you but I botched it I apologize for the miscommunication. My fault.

    I’ll leave it to others to sort out your biblical claims. It’s been a very long day.
    .

    I

    Oh, sorry mate, I see it now. You even said you were having trouble posting because of connection problems! I thought I could work out at least SOME of it wasn’t addressed to me, but obviously I didn’t work out which parts! Thanks for explaining!

  176. In reply to #181 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #164 by MKBW:

    That would be measuring a particular definition of “prayer”, though. It assumes that God has said “ask whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you”.

    The problem is, if you know the scriptures you don’t need to assume anything, because that is exactly what it says in the bible texts. Numerous times in fact…

    Matthew 17:20 Jesus says:

    Matthew 18:19 Jesus says it again:

    Matthew 21:21 Jesus says:

    Mark 11:24 Jesus says:

    Finally a bit of that fruitbat John…

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

    Mr Amos, it’s easy to quote any piece of text out of context! Many Christians do this too to show that God wants you to be rich!

    I think the fundamental flaw in doing this is the lack of context. It seems pretty clear from the context that Jesus is, for example, using hyperbole (moving mountains) to expose to the apostles their lack of faith. These prayers seem to be asked in Jesus’ name – i.e. the question you have to ask as you’re praying these prayers is this: would Jesus sign his name to this prayer? From what I can see of Jesus in Matthew, it would be out of character for him to promise whatever this ‘evil and adulterous generation’ asks for!

    An interesting thing to note, for example, is in the quote from John – Jesus says the prayer will be answered for the glory of God.

    For example, parents don’t give their kids chocolate every time they ask for it. That would be the kind of prayer that’s measured, and I can’t think of many religions where that is how prayer is defined…

    Christianity for starters…Christian parents are breaking the word of their Lord by not giving their sprogs chocolate when asked, but that should come as no surprise around here, Christians are forever contradicting their own edicts..

    Matthew 7:7 Jesus says:

    “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

    So from that example it can be clearly deduced that Jesus/God/the holy ghost is a fraud.

    Sorry, I don’t understand this argument. You seem to be saying something like this: The Bible says parents know how to give good gifts. Therefore, EVERY parent should give their child whatever they ask for.

    It’s pretty clear, I feel. God will give good gifts to his followers who ask for them. Now the question for you is: what does he mean “good gifts”?

  177. In reply to #182 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #165 by MKBW:

    There isn’t any clear evidence for the resurrection of Jesus in the narrative in the NT. There is a number of un-evidenced assumptions based on some contradictory hearsay accounts of an empty tomb and visions of a risen Jesus, but nowhere in the scripture does it say that anyone seen Jesus rise from the dead. This is a miss conception a lot of Christians have because they haven’t bothered to read the book they place so highly.

    Those are some interesting assertions. I agree when (I think you are saying this) you say no one saw Jesus literally move from being dead to alive.

    But the term ‘contradictory hearsay’ is clearly factually incorrect. I cannot deduce any contradiction in the letters written soon after Jesus, like 1 Corinthians, or the subsequent narrative versions of the events. In fact, they seem alarmingly in agreement with each other, though of course written from different perspectives.

    Nor is it hearsay – it is quite clearly based on the writings and recollections of eyewitnesses. Now we can say with certainty that Jesus did die, he was buried, there was on the third day an empty tomb (and no body has been seen since), and multiple groups of multiple people did see Jesus alive again. The deduction is that, yes, he rose from the dead.

    The fact is that the resurrection of Jesus meets virtually every historical criteria you can throw at it, and yet is simply dismissed out of hand by people like Dawkins, who wholly fail to engage with the evidence. That leaves me disillusioned, to say the least!

    What other clear evidence are you after?

  178. In reply to #186 by Ignorant Amos:

    In reply to #178 by MKBW:

    Wouldn’t evidence that people CAN come back to life be evidence AGAINST what the Bible claims the resurrection of Christ means? The Bible says Christ is unique in that he basically raised himself from the dead. If other people can do it too, Jesus isn’t so special anymore!

    Well your fecked then. Scriptures tell us that Lazarus was risen. Resurrection myths were all the rage in ancient times.

    Not by himself he didn’t. Pretty sure he then went on to die again, too.

    Evidence that people CAN come back from the dead would certainly NOT convince me that the Bible is true!

    It’s a lot easier than that to prove the bible isn’t true. Can I ask you if you’ve read it?

    I have, yes.

    You want the story of such an event to be unique? Yet it isn’t.

    Ancient accounts tell of an important figure whose birth would be heralded by a star in the heavens, a god who would later judge the dead. He would be murdered in a betrayal by one close to him, his body hidden away — though not for long, as he would return in a miraculous resurrection to begin an eternal reign in heaven.

    To his legions of followers, he (and his resurrection) came to symbolize the promise of eternal life.

    Sound familiar?

    The figure, Osiris, was the supreme god in ancient Egypt, only one of many pagan gods worshipped thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. Indeed, though Jesus is currently the best-known example of a resurrected figure, he is far from the only one.

    Well, to equate Osiris with Jesus is a bit of a long bow, to be honest. That description barely resembles Osiris. I don’t know where you got it from, so it’s hard to go further. What IS clear is that there are many significant differences with the two resurrection accounts!

  179. You want the story of such an event to be unique? Yet it isn’t.

    Ancient accounts tell of an important figure whose birth would be heralded by a star in the heavens, a god who would later judge the dead. He would be murdered in a betrayal by one close to him, his body hidden away — though not for long, as he would return in a miraculous resurrection to begin an eternal reign in heaven.

    To his legions of followers, he (and his resurrection) came to symbolize the promise of eternal life.

    Sound familiar?

    The figure, Osiris, was the supreme god in ancient Egypt, only one of many pagan gods worshipped thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. Indeed, though Jesus is currently the best-known example of a resurrected figure, he is far from the only one.

    Well, to equate Osiris with Jesus is a bit of a long bow, to be honest. That description barely resembles Osiris. I don’t know where you got it from, so it’s hard to go further. What IS clear is that there are many significant differences with the two resurrection accounts!

    Sorry, but no. I can let Amos deal with your retorts, he’s a big boy and certainly doesn’t need my help there, but here you are just plain wrong.

    Osiris, like his son Horus have striking number of similarities to Christ with the immaculate conception and resurrection in and rising to judge others in particular. Perhaps you should read up on both myths before being so dismissive. Also, do some reading on Mithras as well and you’ll find a very similar pattern. And of course resurrection isn’t confined to those gods in the ancient world.

    The problem here is that your biblical claims of a virgin born resurrected savior is in no way unique, and wasn’t unique at the times that the events you presume (but haven’t been ever proven) happened. All of the deities mentioned were still being worshipped at the time, and all of the other deities mentioned were around years to centuries before Christ was ever said to have existed. So those ideas are in no way unique to the New Testament.

    You can back and forth all you want over scripture, but you have yet to prove your other claim which is that somehow your book proves itself, which it most certainly doesn’t. And neither does any other faith claim as they cannot by their own virtue be their own proofs being based on belief in spite of lack of evidence.

  180. What IS clear is that there are many significant differences with the two resurrection accounts!

    But there is an account of a resurrection that pre-dates the Jesus story. Does that not give you pause?

    Now I’m kinda dumb, so lets keep it simple. The idea that the creator of the universe needed to have himself nailed to a cross in order salvage his creation seams silly to me. Further, the notion that the only thing required of me is to believe this far-fetched story with huge high stakes (heaven or hell) riding on the my ability to believe seams like thinly veiled manipulation.

    It’s absurd on the face of it. We really don’t need to dig to deep.

    Nor is it hearsay – it is quite clearly based on the writings and recollections of eyewitnesses.

    Come on. If it’s based on the writings and recollections of eyewitnesses but not actually the writings and recollections of eye witnesses, well that’s pretty much the dictionary definition of hearsay. Stop being intentionally obtuse.

  181. MKBW

    It’s all very silly isn’t it? If the Lord would like for me to know about him he can introduce himself. Presumably he knows where I live. If he is upset that I have rejected all of his messengers, then he can take heart knowing that I also sent away all of his foes messengers.

    I’m aware of my own silliness here. But I enjoy it, and I often wonder why believers don’t talk about their God as though he does exist and can hear them. It’s curious isn’t it? I’m clearly talking as though he can hear me, as though I am trying to goad him into action. Yet many believers talk as though he’s not there or the very worst kind of narcissist. Or am I supposed to believe they wouldn’t be embarrassed to go on and on about the existence of their amazing friend and his incredible feats while he was standing right there next to them?

    Maybe they would feel insane to talk about their friend in the normal way when nobody else can see him, and that’s why they talk about him as though he were far away, or in another time, or hidden from people who haven’t said the magic words.

    At some point they really ought to tell their God to do his own talking. It’s only fair, especially to them.

    –//–

    I’m in trouble aren’t I God? Well, you’re right here and I feel silly talking about you like this all the time when you’re right there. Besides, I’m sick of telling your story and pretending like it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever encountered every time I tell it…is this what we’ll be doing for eternity? (Whispers to himself, “I wonder what Allah’s like?”)

  182. Nor is it hearsay – it is quite clearly based on the writings and recollections of eyewitnesses.

    This is very interesting and quite telling of willingness to believe unevidenced claims.

    So, the fact that the NT as it’s been read by millions isn’t the original document and no one knows who the original writers were–no evidence of the identity of the original authors have ever been presented–you’re willing to wholesale accept that the NT as written is both literal and true, but will parse differences when someone else has a differing view on the book?

    No concise version of the NT was even compiled until literally hundreds of years after any of the events were said to have happened, no corroborating authors can be found to document any of these events (and the people that are claimed to be did not live when the events were said to take place) but because of the format of the writings and your belief everyone else simply has to accept it’s not hearsay, when that’s all it can be without evidence to provide otherwise?

    Oh, and for the record just because a book claims something happened doesn’t make it true. So, even in a best case scenario where you can establish, John, Mark, Luke and the rest wrote these books how do you then prove they happened they way they claimed if they happened at all? This is why I made the point before about a book making claims is not evidence. It only proves someone said something, not that it happened.

    So, were you there? Is there an archaeological dig or recent discovery we’re not privy to? Were you able to successfully prove the gospels were written by the people named as their authors in the book?

    No? Then please enlighten us as to how you speak with such authority about the unproven authors of a series of documents from 2000 years ago.

  183. In reply to #202 by MKBW:

    Those are some interesting assertions. I agree when (I think you are saying this) you say no one saw Jesus literally move from being dead to alive.

    Well I’m glad about that.

    But the term ‘contradictory hearsay’ is clearly factually incorrect.

    Well I’m only repeating what I’ve read from biblical scholars…some of which are card carrying Christians. Oh yes, and what it says in the scriptures themselves of course.

    Well, let’s clear the issue up then.

    Contradiction: a contradiction consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other.

    Let’s check some NT contradictions….

    Jesus asks God, The Father, why he has forsaken him. Mt.27:46.

    Jesus said that he and The Father were one in the same. Jn.10:30; Jn.17:11,21,22.

    So you are suggesting Jesus asked himself why he had forsaken himself?

    Moving on…

    The centurion says, “Truly this was the son of God”. Mt.27:54.

    The centurion says, “Truly this man was the son of God”. Mk.15:39.

    The centurion says, “Certainly, this was a righteous man”. Lk.23:47.

    There was no centurion. Jn.19:31-37.

    Was there a centurion there or not?

    Another?…

    Jesus was crucified at the third hour. Mk.15:25.

    Jesus was still before Pilate at the sixth hour. Jn.19:13,14.

    Any suggestions?…

    The women looked on from “afar”. Mt.27:55; Mk.15:40; Lk.23:49.

    The women were very close. Jn.19:25.

    A bit ambiguous I grant you, who decides what is far or near…directly proportional subjective opinion I suppose.

    This one is my bestest favourite…Bart Ehrman likes this one too..

    The last recorded words of Jesus were:

    Version 1: “Eli, Eli …My God, My God why have you forsaken me” Mt.27:46.

    Version 2: “Eloi, Eloi…My God, My God why have you forsaken me” Mk.15:34.

    Version 3: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. Lk.23:46.

    Version 4: “It is finished”. Jn.19:30.

    Now it doesn’t take too much of an education to be able to deduce that there is a logical contradiction in there.

    Upon their arrival, the stone was still in place. Mt.28:1 2.

    Upon their arrival, the stone had been removed. Mk.16:4; Lk.24:2; Jn.20:1.

    …who seen JC first?… ,,,

    Jesus was first seen by Cephas, then the twelve. 1 Cor.15:5.

    Jesus was first seen by the two Marys. Mt.28:1,8,9.

    Jesus was first seen by Mary Magdalene. Mk.16:9; Jn.20:1,14,15.

    Jesus was first seen by Cleopas and others. Lu.24:17,18.

    Jesus was first seen by the disciples. Acts 10:40,41.

    More examples available on request.

    Now hearsay….

    Hearsay: Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another person, or through a number of consecutive persons, concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience.

    Who wrote the gospels? Paul did was not privy to Jesus’ life, nor does any Pauline epistle claim to be.

    So, “contradictory hearsay” is factually correct.

    I cannot deduce any contradiction in the letters written soon after Jesus, like 1 Corinthians, or the subsequent narrative versions of the events. In fact, they seem alarmingly in agreement with each other, though of course written from different perspectives.

    That is purely your ignorance. Individual books contradict one another ffs…

    Paul’s conversion vision story in Acts.

    Acts 9:7 states that the men heard a voice. In contrast,

    Acts 22:9 states that the men did not hear or understand the voice.

    Acts 9:7 The men with Paul didn’t see anything

    Acts 22:9 The men with Paul saw the light

    Now the apologist will talk till blue in the face about translation discrepancies, but the fact is, the English version is the version the grass roots is being taught from in this day and age, besides, if it was such an issue of mistranslation, get it sorted. In any case, you want to have your cake and eat it, you holy rollers won’t accept translation issues on other points, namely, that Hebrew word “almah” which has spawned the whole virgin Mary nonsense.

    Nor is it hearsay – it is quite clearly based on the writings and recollections of eyewitnesses.

    Wise up. No critical biblical scholars will support that assertion.

    Now we can say with certainty that Jesus did die, he was buried, there was on the third day an empty tomb…

    Errr…no we can’t.

    …(and no body has been seen since), and multiple groups of multiple people did see Jesus alive again.

    No body was seen since, but multiple groups of multiple people did see Jesus alive again…read that back to yourself again to see how much sense it makes.

    The gospels are not eyewitness accounts, the Pauline letters are not eyewitness accounts…ergo…they are hearsay at best and more likely made up myth.

    The deduction is that, yes, he rose from the dead.

    No, the wishful thinking of Christians is that he rose from the dead…the evidence is zip, zilch, zero, nadda, none, nil.

    The fact is that the resurrection of Jesus meets virtually every historical criteria you can throw at it…

    It doesn’t meet any historical criteria at all, never mind every criteria…there’s your ignorance again.

    …and yet is simply dismissed out of hand by people like Dawkins, who wholly fail to engage with the evidence.

    There is no evidence, and you have provided nothing but a couple of stories from a book. If that is evidence, then Sherlock Holmes was a real Victorian detective…there’s at least as much evidence for him, some might say a good lot more.

    That leaves me disillusioned, to say the least!

    Well if the cap fits I say.

    What other clear evidence are you after?

    Oh, I don’t know….something contemporary maybe…from an unbiased independent source perhaps…a bit of archaeology perhaps…multiple independant attestations…the usual stuff historians rely on.

  184. In reply to #201 by MKBW:

    Mr Amos, it’s easy to quote any piece of text out of context!

    How do you know? Who says? And whoever told you should share it with the sheeples.

    Many Christians do this too to show that God wants you to be rich!

    No shit Sherlock?

    I think the fundamental flaw in doing this is the lack of context. It seems pretty clear from the context that Jesus is, for example, using hyperbole (moving mountains) to expose to the apostles their lack of faith. These prayers seem to be asked in Jesus’ name – i.e. the question you have to ask as you’re praying these prayers is this: would Jesus sign his name to this prayer?

    Hence there being 38,000+ Christian flavours. Everyone wants their own right Christianity. Doesn’t that make you wonder a wee bit?

    From what I can see of Jesus in Matthew, it would be out of character for him to promise whatever this ‘evil and adulterous generation’ asks for!

    because the context it was written in was for a first century group of ignorants expecting the endtimes in their lifetime. They didn’t even have chocolate, poor buggers.

  185. In reply to #203 by MKBW:

    http://www.paulonpaul.org/jesus/narr3resurr.htm

    If you’re interested in a more sensible analysis of the evidence, John Lennox’s “Gunning For God” does a pretty good job.

    More sensible for whom? I love it….Christians disregarding Christian theology in favour of their favourite Christian theology.

    Brilliant stuff.

  186. In reply to #204 by MKBW:

    Well your fecked then. Scriptures tell us that Lazarus was risen. Resurrection myths were all the rage in ancient times.

    Not by himself he didn’t. Pretty sure he then went on to die again, too.

    Well, that’s a non sequitur…my point is, there is other resurrection myths, even within the Christian texts. I no more believe the Lazarus nonsense than the Jesus nonsense, but that’s not the point. Incidentally, how do you know what happened to Lazarus? How do you know Jesus didn’t go on to die again too? You don’t.

    Well, to equate Osiris with Jesus is a bit of a long bow, to be honest. That description barely resembles Osiris. I don’t know where you got it from, so it’s hard to go further. What IS clear is that there are many significant differences with the two resurrection accounts!

    That is another non sequitur…Google it, my point was to demonstrate that resurrection myths are not unique. Other examples available on request.

  187. Reading your comments I had a few important thoughts:

    Very few people here are talking about science. Most of the claims both for and against religion are founded in philosophy, but not in testable, scientific facts. We aren’t debating evidence; we are debating which philosophy is more logical. Many of the posts are based on what somebody said, but without a single piece of actual, quantifiable evidence. Those that accept religion find their philosophy to be more logical, which is entirely unfathomable to those of you that find atheist philosophy to be more rational. Thus, there is no consideration of the validity of what others may say, and certainly no reason to think; just respond.

    The purpose of this post was to think about our standpoints not to score points before a third-party judge. At the end of the day, none of us have any evidence to support our claims, just rhetoric. We can’t even fathom what kind of evidence to seek. We are a diverse species with variation in our way of thinking. We shouldn’t act so surprised to find that others think differently than we do about what is logical.

  188. In reply to #213 by Chipmunk:

    I started a line by line response to you and then stopped myself. Why should I bother responding?

    You started a discussion, provided no parameters for this thing for which we might accept evidence, popped in at comment #160 and completely evaded the issue again.

    Now, 53 comments later, you’re here to say that

    nobody’s talking about science,

    AND that

    there is no consideration of the validity of what others may say, and certainly no reason to think; just respond.

    Spoinnngggg!!!!

    I’m out of patience. You’re being dishonest.

    You’ve failed to respond in any way to the discussion you started.

    We shouldn’t act so surprised to find that others think differently than we do about what is logical.

    Nobody is surprised Chipmunk. It’s not a shocking revelation for anyone here.

    I’m not sure what thread you’ve been reading.

    Could you possibly answer some of the questions people have asked you?

    Or are you just going to disappear for another long stretch and then pop in out of nowhere to make comments that completely avoid the issues?

  189. What I find interesting is that there are several parts of religious scripture that can be disproven, still people fixate on other things.
    If we consider christianity…
    The base of noahs arc for instance is supposed to be 3151 square meters and there were supposed to be 3 floors, therefore Noah would have to fit two of each animal on a surface of 9453 square meters, which is a surface area around 15% larger than a regular football field. When people argued this would not be possible, ofcourse the story was considered a metaphore or guidance or whatever people call it nowadays.
    I hope I wont need to argue the case of the earth circling the sun and not the opposite.
    There are several other examples but since I am not well versed in theology I will leave that to someone else to mention.

  190. What are the issues that I haven’t addressed? There seems to be an assumption that I knew the answer before I asked the question. I asked the question to learn the answer.
    However, instead of giving the question some thought and answering, more people have felt it better to insult me and be generally condescending. I guess I am just too stupid to be treated with any respect. The issue that many seem concerned with is that I didn’t tell them who god is. I’ll try to get back to you when I know. I don’t want to know how to prove whether my concept of god exists or not, but any concept that you may have. If you would accept aliens as gods, then tell me what evidence it would take to prove their existence. If god has to exist in another realm, how would we test that? Whatever would qualify as a god in your eyes, what evidence would convince you of its validity?

  191. Chipmunk,

    If I ask what the definition of god is I’m making an observation about the nature of the discussion. It is essential to analyzing the core of the matter. We literally can’t begin to address the issue you’re presenting without defining that point. Scientifically speaking there is no case for the deities as they have been defined so the onus of evidence lies with the person making the claim.

    I don’t need to provide proof that something I don’t believe in exists, I need to give logical reasons why I don’t believe to make my observations credible. This is a very important distinction, and underlies my issue with the OP.

    Or to put it another way, if you’re asking what evidence would make me believe or at least give me pause then about which deity? Which flavor of that deity’s worship? Overall my problem truly lies in what one would have to do to establish evidence of a deity of any sort. I have in numerous prior threads analyzed that point as thus:

    1. One must demonstrate the actual need or evidence for a sentient creative force of any sort.
    2. Then one must establish that said sentient creative force is the deity that one ascribes to.
    3. Then finally one must establish the they have the ability to discern the will of said force.

    I hope that you can see that even the first position is impossible to reach for any faith without first establishing what they define god as being. So, if we cannot do that, how can I then answer your question regarding what evidence would it take?

    If something happens that we don’t have an initial explanation for (which is not uncommon) that appears as supernatural, we would analyze it, not blindly accept it as part of some faith. If something occurs in the natural world, it is not supernatural and therefore must have a correlary explanation. So i suspect a part of the problem of answering this question relates to the way we reason things every bit as much as what constitutes a god in the first place.

    So if we could get a definition going, and address some of the other issues mentioned perhaps we can move toward some clarification. This has come up many times before thought, so I’m not holding out hope.

  192. chipmunk,

    achromat666 has covered the first part of the problem very nicely. This was brought up more than once in this discussion and you’ve ignored it.

    The fact that you said the existence of “god” in the OP, not a god or gods makes your explanation a little unsatisying. especially when the OP goes on to say, “if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any “other” religious group.

    So, non-religious people are another religious group who are being illogical because they don’t accept the existence of an unevidenced, undefined somethin’ or other.

    The OP makes no sense and you’ve made no effort to further clarify your question despite many requests from commenters. On top of that, you showed up to tell us that nobody’s considering the positions of others, just stating things, despite a massive amount of evidence to the contrary, and also to chide us for “not talking about science”.

    However, instead of giving the question some thought and answering, more people have felt it better to insult me and be generally condescending.

    Over two hundred comments and the bulk of them have been spent insulting you? Show me one, chipmunk. Almost all of the comments were from people giving the question some thought, despite how malformed it is. You’re being insulting.

    I guess I am just too stupid to be treated with any respect.

    No one has called you stupid or even implied it. Don’t start that.

  193. In reply to #221 by Ignorant Amos:

    You made my night Paul. That was artful. I’m still laughing.

    Asking someone what the square route of infinity is makes you appear like a goat.

    True, and well within the Terms and Conditions.

    The question was a load of bollocks…we were sucked in.

    Still, interesting stuff was teased out of the discussion thread, soit was not all a waste of time then..

    Yes. Real redemption. Not the imaginary substitute some religions manage to pawn off.

    Happy Religion Week. 🙂

  194. Or to put it another way, if you’re asking what evidence would make me believe or at least give me pause then about which deity? Which flavor of that deity’s worship? Overall my problem truly lies in what one would have to do to establish evidence of a deity of any sort. I have in numerous prior threads analyzed that point as thus:

    One must demonstrate the actual need or evidence for a sentient creative force of any sort.
    Then one must establish that said sentient creative force is the deity that one ascribes to.
    Then finally one must establish the they have the ability to discern the will of said force.

    Thank you! This (though not the only good answer on this thread) is exactly what I was asking for. So, to make sure I understand what you are saying:
    First, we would need some sort of evidence that demonstrates that intelligence of some sort was necessary for the creation of our existence. This would be the kind of evidence that Intelligent Design people claim to have (though I still don’t know what it could be).
    Second, we would need some kind of evidence that this intelligence is a specific, known, god (as opposed to aliens, men from the future, or whatever it might be). That makes perfect sense. This evidence would depend on what god we are hypothesizing to be the intelligence in question. Very good point.
    Third, even if we know that there is an intelligence behind creation, and that it is a specific god known to man, we need to have a way to determine what its will is regarding us (and I might add what its motivation is in interacting with us). This is important, for supposing we could determine that there is a god, and that it is the Christian God, we would need a way to know which (if any) of the existing sects really understand His will toward us or if they are all incorrect in their attempts to make sense of metaphorical, poorly translated religious texts.
    If you said all this earlier, I am sorry that I missed it. Any idea what kind of evidence it would take to indicate your first postulate? I watched all of the documentary “Expelled” with the hope that they would answer that question, but by hopes were not rewarded.

    I am also sorry that I felt insulted earlier. I didn’t like being referred to as dishonest. I am simply asking a question, and I was hoping for more excellent and thought provoking answers like this one.

  195. In reply to #223 by Chipmunk:

    This is important, for supposing we could determine that there is a god, and that it is the Christian God,

    So, you’re talking about Jesus. Why didn’t you just say so?

  196. In reply to #216 by Chipmunk:

    Hi Chipmunk,

    I have been lurking in this thread, and resisted diving in myself because the topic has been pretty well plumbed from all sides without my 2 cents. But it is apparent from your comments that – while you may have read a lot of material here – you have either missed, or failed to appreciate a very basic point. Your frustration seems to me to arise from a misunderstanding on your part. I’m going to try to explain, very politely, what I think you are missing. I’m going to ask you to really stop and think about what I have to say, not assume you already understand it. Because from your words so far you really appear not to.

    This will be a long post, but I hope you will read it all, and try to really engage with it, rather than dismissing or trying instantly to dismantle it. If you have questions or disagreements, I’ll gladly respond to them, but if you answer me without showing any sign that you have taken my points on board, I will assume you are not interested in discussion.

    I’ll use your comment #216 as a framework. Here goes.

    What are the issues that I haven’t addressed?

    There are many, but to be fair, it’s a huge thread, and you couldn’t be expected to answer every single point. However, the biggest gap I see is that you have made no attempt whatsoever to engage with the MANY posts here which are asking for a definition of the term ‘god.’ Your dismissal of this persistent question implies that you have not really grasped why people are asking it. Hint, it isn’t really to find out what you, Chipmunk, would accept as a ‘god’. The point of their questions is to reveal the hidden assumptions and flaws behind your own question. Now, it’s possible that you may be able to defend your question against these objections, but first you’d have to honestly address the assertion that your question may be unanswerable because it contains undefinable terms.

    There seems to be an assumption that I knew the answer before I asked the question. I asked the question to learn the answer.

    That is very laudable. Asking sincere questions is the only cure for ignorance. But you also have to REALLY listen to the answers, especially when those answers don’t conform to your preconceived ideas.

    First I would gently suggest that the WAY you asked the initial question – by asserting that people who reject gods due to lack of evidence are as irrational as those who accept gods without valid evidence – might give some people the impression that you are less interested in learning than in making a point or chastising those who disagree with you. That impression is reinforced when you are dismissive of a very long and very active discussion without really engaging the critical ideas which folks have raised.

    I realize that you may not intend to make this impression, but to an objective reader of this discussion you could easily come across as saying “Hey all you dogmatic atheists, here’s a question to demonstrate just how irrational you are. I am asking this question, so I only want to hear the sort of answers I like! I’ll ignore the others because they are obviously irrational. I don’t expect to have my assumptions challenged, that’s just rude! … See, see! People don’t accept my premise! They’re just as dogmatic as “other” religions. I don’t need to address your objections, because they must be illogical. You are all proving the point I made at the very beginning, just like I knew you would.”

    Can you see how the approach you’ve taken here might stir some folks to engage antagonistically with your question?

    However, instead of giving the question some thought and answering, more people have felt it better to insult me and be generally condescending. I guess I am just too stupid to be treated with any respect.

    Here is where you really go off the rails. Take a look at the discussions posted on RD.net in the last several months. How many can you find with over 200 comments in the thread? It is petulant to imply that all these many comments from very smart people represent a failure to give your question thought or to answer it. In fact, you are the one failing to REALLY GIVE THOUGHT to the many answers that are posted here. I appreciate that you have read all the comments. I really do! But you cannot have really tried to understand them if you are making assertions like this.

    To be fair, I can see how you would get defensive or feel assaulted given the blunt tone of SOME postings in the thread, I would even agree that a few cross the line. However; A) If you really think that MORE people have been condescending than honest, you are far too sensitive. B) Consider that some here may have perceived your initial question to be setting a hostile and somewhat insulting tone, so that they merely followed suit, and C) I really think you are misunderstanding most of the posts from which you perceive an insult.

    SO HERE IT IS. The big thing you are ignoring, or missing, or misunderstanding is that pople who don’t just provide you a simple list of evidence in response to your question, ARE NOT IGNORING YOUR OT. They are taking it very seriously. They are trying to point out that the question as you have asked it, MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE TO ANSWER.

    Stop here and re-read the proceeding paragraph until you are prepared to re-examine your question with at least the possibility that it contains fatal flaws and assumptions. Sometimes the most respectful answer to a question is, “you are asking the wrong question.”

    The issue that many seem concerned with is that I didn’t tell them who god is. I’ll try to get back to you when I know.

    There it is. You accuse others of simply being dismissive of your question, but you have been asked, literally dozens of times, in this thread for a definition of “god.” It has been pointed out in more ways than I can count, that your request for evidence IS IMPOSSIBLE to fulfill without a definition of the term “god.” You dismiss this point without really even thinking about it. Those who raise this point ARE NOT DUCKING YOUR QUESTION. They ARE NOT BEING IRRATIONAL, OR RUDE. They are trying to answer your question. If you were to try, even for a moment, to honestly reply to THEIR questions, you would perhaps make progress toward answering your own.

    I don’t want to know how to prove whether my concept of god exists or not, but any concept that you may have.

    You’re missing the point of the request for a definition. No one is asking for your personal definition of “god”. They are asking for ANY definition of “god” that meets the criteria of a testable hypothesis. Only testable hypotheses are capable of support or disproof through evidence. Since you ask for evidence, we MUST first have a hypothesis for which evidence is possible. Many people here are trying to get you to consider that the term ‘god’ may not allow for any definition that will permit evidenced examination. Seriously. That’s not dogma, it’s a serious point.

    You yourself almost concede the point, because your one (flippant) attempt to engage the “define god” question is to say “I’ll try to get back to you when I know.” The implications of that answer are actually profound, if you’ll stop to consider them. You are effectively acknowledging that “god” is undefined, possibly undefinable. Theologians sometimes like to say that god is beyond all human knowledge…”unknowable”. If a concept is – by definition – outside the realm of human knowledge, then – by definition – it cannot be demonstrated using evidence. It cannot be done. That is not a stubborn refusal to accept evidence. Really, it’s not.

    You cannot dismiss the question as if it doesn’t matter. “Any concept you may have” is not going to cut it. You talk as though ‘god’ is a well understood term and the differences between one definition and another is mere quibbling. Some of us who have actually spent time trying to define just what a “god” might be, find your suggestion that we should just toss out any old definition and move on to the evidence to be….well, naïve.

    It is actually INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to come up with any sort of coherent definition of the term; let alone one that would allow for acceptable, verifiable, repeatable evidence. Go ahead. Try.

  197. In reply to #216 by Chipmunk:

    CONTINUED

    If you would accept aliens as gods, then tell me what evidence it would take to prove their existence.

    “Aliens” is a term that is MUCH easier to define than “god.” (Although we would still encounter problems, because “life” is also a very slippery a concept. Not as difficult as “god,” but still, hard to define.)

    If you want to know what evidence it would take to prove the existence of aliens, then ask that question. We can easily imagine what sort of evidence might convince us of the existence of “aliens.” I suspect if I started a thread asking for examples of such hypothetical evidence, there would be a fair degree of consensus.

    But you preface this new question with the phrase “If you would accept aliens as gods”. And that simply begs the question. What would it mean to “accept aliens as gods”? I would have to know what a ‘god’ is before I could tell you whether I believe aliens qualify.

    You might as well say, “If you would accept a potted geranium as god, then tell me what evidence would prove the existence of a potted geranium.” I know what a geranium is, and can answer that question, but it gets me no closer to answering your original question. I simply can’t answer your first question until I know what a ‘god’ is.

    And the thing is, I don’t. I really, honestly, sincerely, truthfully, don’t know what a ‘god’ is. From the way you respond you seem to assume that the definition is common knowlege and that providing one is a trivial part of the exercise, but neither of those assumptions holds true for me. I’m asking you honestly and sincerely, can you give me a definition of the term ‘god’? I don’t have one.

    But here’s the thing.

    1) The definition has to be coherent, and free of self-disproving logical impossibilities. (No “omnis” allowed , because it’s clearly impossible to come up with hypothetical evidence to support something which is already discounted by logic. No possible evidence could prove the existence of a square circle.)

    2) The definition has to include some distinctive quality that justifies using the term “god” rather than some other – more easily quantifiable term. (God=Aliens fails this test because the two words already exist side by side in common vocabulary and are generally understood to describe two distinct things. If we mean aliens, we say aliens. If we say “god” the vast majority of people understand us to mean something MORE than just aliens. Any definition of “god” which we could explore with evidence would have to explain what this “something more” might entail.)

    3) The definition doesn’t – strictly speaking – have to be falsifiable; many attempted definitions of “god” are not. But if you can’t come up with a falsifiable definition (or one that isn’t overly vague or one that doesn’t rely upon “gaps” in current knowledge) then don’t accuse me of irrationality when I reply that I would accept as support for that definition.

    See, I’m not JUST trivially asking you to define god. I’m questioning whether the term ‘god’ makes any meaningful sense. If it doesn’t, then it is perfectly rational to say “no evidence could possibly prove that ‘god’ exists.”

    If god has to exist in another realm, how would we test that?

    Well, I almost hate to say it, but that depends on what you mean by “other realm.”

    If by “other realm” you mean a “place” completely outside of our own universe, then the simple answer is, we can’t test it, ever. It is literally impossible for us to investigate any phenomenon which is not connected IN SOME WAY to the universe we inhabit. It has to have some effect in the observable, material realm. And if any phenomenon DOES have such an effect, I can’t really understand what it would mean to say that it exists in “another realm.” Honestly, that idea makes no sense to me. I suspect it may be impossible.

    If, for example, we found some way to investigate another universe, it would become – just another part of our universe. (In so far as “universe” can be defined as “everything within our capacity to explore.”)

    We can hypothesize about multiverses and “other realms” but we can only investigate our own universe. No evidence could ever be enough to prove what does or does not exist in any “realm” that is really, completely “other.” If any “things” do exist in such “realms” we will never know it.

    Because there are an infinite number of possibilities and no possibility of exploration, we would be irrational to assert belief in any particular “thing” existing in “another realm.” I would also question the relevance of such a belief, since nothing in “another realm” would have any bearing on us.

    If “god” is something that exists in “another realm” it is of no concern whatsoever to ours. However, if “god” is a thing that interacts with and leaves traces (another word for “evidence”) in our universe, then ‘god; exists in our “realm” and we can look for it…just as soon as we have a working definition.

    You can say I’m being just as illogical as a religious believer, but I’ll just dismiss your logic right back. So there! (smiley emoticon)

    Whatever would qualify as a god in your eyes, […]

    But what if nothing would qualify as a god in my eyes? I honestly can’t think of anything that would. Can you suggest something that I should feel justified in calling ‘god’? What would that thing be like?

    […] what evidence would convince you of its validity?

    Right now, I can’t think of any. I’m not dismissing you or being flip. I’m not insulting you or disrespecting you. I’m trying to answer you. Any potential evidence I CAN think of would fall short of evidence for ‘god’ because – so far as I understand the term – ‘god’ is, by definition, more improbable than almost any other explaination of a given observation.

    For example you said something earlier in the thread like “if you looked god in the face, would you accept that as evidence?” Well, on the one hand yes, of course that is evidence, but evidence of what? You can’t simply assert that I am looking ‘god’ in the face. because that begs the question again. If such a thing happened in reality, I would only know that I was looking something in the face, but why should I call that something “god”? What would it mean to call that face ‘god’? I don’t know, because I don’t know what a ‘god’ is. You see?

    Of course, you could simply assert that the definition of “god” is “that thing you are staring in the face.” If you did that, then yes, I would have to concede, that I would have evidence for “god.” (Assuming normal observational checks are in place to be sure I’m not hallucinating or simply mistaking a pattern in the wood paneling for a face.)

    But that wouldn’t really get us anywhere, would it? I could just as easily define “god” as my pet Jack Russell, and then I’d have all the evidence I could want that “god” exists. But if I said that, you’d accuse me of being silly. Then I’d have to ask you – sincerely – why my definition is silly and yours isn’t? Why should this hypothetical face deserve to be called god while it would be silly to use the term for my dog? What properties distinguish a silly definition from a serious one? What traits would make something worthy of the name “god.” Are any of those traits testable?

    Which brings us around, again (and again, and again) to the question that answers your question. “How do you [or how does anyone] define “god”?

    Peace.

  198. In reply to #223 by Chipmunk:

    Or to put it another way, if you’re asking what evidence would make me believe or at least give me pause then about which deity? Which flavor of that deity’s worship? Overall my problem truly lies in what one would have to do to establish evidence of a deity of any sort. I have in numerous prior threads analyzed that point as thus:

    One must demonstrate the actual need or evidence for a sentient creative force of any sort.
    Then one must establish that said sentient creative force is the deity that one ascribes to.
    Then finally one must establish the they have the ability to discern the will of said force.

    Thank you! This (though not the only good answer on this thread) is exactly what I was asking for. So, to make sure I understand what you are saying:
    First, we would need some sort of evidence that demonstrates that intelligence of some sort was necessary for the creation of our existence. This would be the kind of evidence that Intelligent Design people claim to have (though I still don’t know what it could be).
    Second, we would need some kind of evidence that this intelligence is a specific, known, god (as opposed to aliens, men from the future, or whatever it might be). That makes perfect sense. This evidence would depend on what god we are hypothesizing to be the intelligence in question. Very good point.
    Third, even if we know that there is an intelligence behind creation, and that it is a specific god known to man, we need to have a way to determine what its will is regarding us (and I might add what its motivation is in interacting with us). This is important, for supposing we could determine that there is a god, and that it is the Christian God, we would need a way to know which (if any) of the existing sects really understand His will toward us or if they are all incorrect in their attempts to make sense of metaphorical, poorly translated religious texts.
    If you said all this earlier, I am sorry that I missed it. Any idea what kind of evidence it would take to indicate your first postulate? I watched all of the documentary “Expelled” with the hope that they would answer that question, but by hopes were not rewarded.

    I am also sorry that I felt insulted earlier. I didn’t like being referred to as dishonest. I am simply asking a question, and I was hoping for more excellent and thought provoking answers like this one.

    You understand the point I’m getting across, but I wasn’t saying that I’d posited this notion in this thread previously, merely that I’ve put it in discussion on this site in previous threads. Most often I do it when someone attempts to throw out the creator argument obviously, but it’s important to understand the properties a deity would take if he would be given any credence.

    The implications are actually far worse in all of this though. First, you have the issue that some intelligence responsible for bringing everything into being would not necessarily be continuing to actively guide things once that process was done. So an addendum to my first point would be not only evidence of the sentient creative force, but evidence that that force is still affecting things. Obviously there are many other subtleties not covered by my 3 points but I use them to direct the dialogue where I think it needs to go.

    As has been indicated by others the common ideas regarding the properties given God (omniscience, omnibenevolence, omnipotence etc) are obviously both impossible to quantify and contradictory to each other. A deity that cares specifically for earth and its human inhabitants primarily is a far greater stretch too, as well as the insinuation that bronze age (or older, depending on the deity of your choice) authors who couldn’t even get historical facts correct, much less divine ones somehow got it right by some dare I say, act of god.

    So when you ask me what it would take to give me any indication or pause to examine even the first postulate you unknowingly illustrate what most here have been saying: there isn’t anything to really substantiate it in the religions of the world past or present. A sentient creative force is not by definition a religious god per se, it’s why I use that term. Even proving the sentient part of that quandary is improbable and difficult to quantify to everyone’s satisfaction, much less the evidence that said sentience is creating anything.

    It’s an interesting thought experiment I suppose, but ultimately since no one can offer any of the 3 postulates I put forth to any satisfaction I can’t say there is anything that would currently convince me, and I simply don’t see it changing.

    Also? Pretty much everything BanJoIvie said.

  199. I think you’ve done an excellent job Chipmunk.

    —-//—-

    God – creator and sustainer of the universe.

    That’s a working definition. It is also well known and seems to be assumed by all the monotheistic faiths. To ask what evidence we would accept for a God does not require anything more than that. You can certainly offer more, but it isn’t necessary.

    You’re looking for a creator. Did you create the universe? Do you now sustain the universe?

    Many of the other commonly talked about attributes of God are inferred from these two: creator and sustainer. How can you create a universe? You must be x, y, z where these are the other attributes of the God assumed by many people to exist.

    We have a definition. It may be impossible for a thing so defined to exist, or to have discovered it, and the attributes assigned to it may be born from ignorance, and their consequences debated. But it is defined, many times over all over the world.

  200. In reply to #230 by Sean_W:

    God – creator and sustainer of the universe.

    Well, this is a start, but I’d first point out that this definition simply assumes that the Universe is both created and sustained. In effect it assumes the existence of God, before we begin to search. But that’s fine, most definitons assume that the thing they are defining exists.

    So can this definition allow us to search for this “god”? We’d need first some evidence that the universe is both created and sustained. But I don’t think that lets me really answer Chipmunk’s question, because I can’t imagine what such evidence would look like. What would it possibly mean to ‘create’ a universe? Do we mean a conscious act? How could we demonstrate that? How would we distinguish between a created thing and a “non-created” thing? We’d need examples of both types of things to compare. However this definition says that the entire universe is created, (except maybe ‘god’ which is no help because that’s the thing we seek.) Using this definition means that no control sample is possible. Therefore, no evidence is possible.

    I’d also point out, that this definition doesn’t really live up to the word ‘god’ as it is generally understood. At the very least, the ‘gods’ of monotheistic faiths are also assumed to be “good” and “worthy of worship.” Even if we could prove that a “creator and sustainer of the universe” exists, I’d contend we still haven’t demonstrated “god.” How could we know that this “creator and sustainer” is aware of us…or of anything? That it loves us, hates sin or administers justice? How could we know that this “god” is not evil – like some ‘gods’ in the mythological cannon? What does it mean for a thing to be worthy of worship? Is something automatically venerable just because it creates and sustains a universe or could there be a “creator and sustainer” that is not automatically “divine”?

    That’s a working definition. It is also well known and seems to be assumed by all the monotheistic faiths.

    Well, that’s a part of the definition that is assumed by all the monotheistic faiths. In my view, it is a necessary, but not sufficient part. I’d contend that we could imagine things which fit that definition which would not be accepted as “god” by any monotheistic believer. (A mad scientist perhaps?)

    To ask what evidence we would accept for a God does not require anything more than that.

    This statement seems to be directly contradicted by your own statement a little later:

    […] It may be impossible for a thing so defined to exist […]

    If the thing defined is impossible, then the only answer to “what evidence would we accept?” is “none.” So yeah, I guess we can ask that quesion given your definition, but Chipmunk ruled out the ‘none’ answer in the OP, insisting that we must list possible evidence in order to be “more logical than any other religious group.”

    You can certainly offer more, but it isn’t necessary.

    It is necessary if you want specific examples of evidence that would prove your “god” as defined.

    You’re looking for a creator.

    Okay, but I thought we were looking for a ‘god.’ We can accept your definition and start by searching only for a “creator and sustainer” (a difficult enough task) but we’d have to admit that we are not yet searching for the god of Abraham, or any other “god”.

    Did you create the universe? Do you now sustain the universe?

    No. I’m honestly confused by these two questions. What do you mean to convey by asking them?

    Many of the other commonly talked about attributes of God are inferred from these two: creator and sustainer.

    Yes, but many others are not.

    How can you create a universe?

    Excellent question. I’d need to know what creating a universe even means.

    You must be x, y, z where these are the other attributes of the God assumed by many people to exist.

    No. x, y, z might be SOME of the other attribures of “god” assumed by most, but “loving” does not flow necessarily from “creator.” Neither does “just” or “good” or “wise”, etc.

    Furthermore if by x, y, z you mean “all powerful” then we are done. Such a ‘creator’ is logically impossible. If you simply mean “powerful enough to create a universe” then we are still done because we have no idea what creating a universe entails. See you haven’t really provided a working definition, you’ve just substituted one undifined term with two others. Finally, if “x, y, and z” are logically possible attributes flowing from “creator and sustainer” we STILL aren’t necessarily talking about a “god” because there are plenty of sci-fi speculative concepts – other than gods – that could ‘create a univere’, depending on what we mean by that.

    We have a definition.

    Perhaps, but do we have a definition of ‘god?’ How will we know it when we have it?

    It may be impossible for a thing so defined to exist, or to have discovered it, and the attributes assigned to it may be born from ignorance, and their consequences debated.

    Exactly.

    But it is defined, many times over all over the world.

    Yes, many, many, many, times. And these many, many, many definitions are not logically coherent nor are any (that I know of) sufficient to generate testable hypotheses.

    “Defined” is not the same thing as “usefully defined” or “coherently defined” or “falsifiably defined”. These types of definitions are what we need before we can give an answer to Chipmunk.

  201. Evidence is useful to scientists. Evidence to a general citizen is not useful. Only a scientist can make good practical use of evidence. For example, if you are to discover a new method of healing in medicine, you need to perform experiences. Performing experiences requires a set of evidence that supports the premises for performing the experiences. Only scientists and doctors benefit from evidence here. Evidence are for scientists. When we come to the general population, conviction is as good to them as evidence is to scientists.

  202. In reply to #233 by Sean_W:

    Cool! Don’t feel obliged to be as verbose as I was. I know I tend to go on a bit, and that it creates a burden on others who might wish to engage me in discussion. Just because I’m long winded, doesn’t mean other’s have to be.

    I guess that’s something in the way of an apology for the length of my posts. I just don’t seem to be able to say what I want to say more concisely. I’m trying though!

    In reply to #231 by BanJoIvie:

    Thanks for the response BanJolvie, I’ll reply later.

  203. God – creator and sustainer of the universe.

    OK. But what if it turns out that the creator and sustainer of the universe looks more like gravity or some weird aspect of quantum mechanics then a human with super powers? If so, then wouldn’t calling it a ‘God’ ahead of time create confusion?

    My understanding is that prior to the discovery of Biological Evolution, it was postulated that an intelligent designer was required to explain the complexity of living things. That turned out to be false. Why go down a similar road with the origin of the universe?

    Why make assumptions ahead of time then look for the evidence to support those assumptions?

  204. In reply to #232 by OpenDebate:

    Evidence is useful to scientists. Evidence to a general citizen is not useful. Only a scientist can make good practical use of evidence. For example, if you are to discover a new method of healing in medicine, you need to perform experiences. Performing experiences requires a set of evidence that supports the premises for performing the experiences. Only scientists and doctors benefit from evidence here. Evidence are for scientists. When we come to the general population, conviction is as good to them as evidence is to scientists.

    The problem arises when the general population is unable to have a reliable basis for their convictions about nature generally, life or particular processes.
    Any old conviction will not do! It needs to be evidence based from a trustworthy source.
    That is why peer-reviewed scientific cross-checked evidence is used, with simpler reports or textbooks based on this, with citations to the sources.

  205. In reply to BonJolvie:_

    Sean_W wrote: God – creator and sustainer of the universe.

    BonJolvie wrote: So can this definition allow us to search for this “god”?

    Yes, we are looking for a creator and sustainer. Reason and science enable us to search for anything we can imagine and also to dismiss things as nonsense. You spend some time doing just that below.

    We’d need first some evidence that the universe is both created and sustained.

    No, you can assume it is created and sustained. A failure to find evidence of such may point to the non-existence of a creator and sustainer, but not to a problem with the definition. (Unless you’re a theist who’s hung his hat on that God, in which case you should change the definition and try again -a disinterested heir perhaps?)

    But I don’t think that lets me really answer Chipmunk’s question, because I can’t imagine what such evidence would look like.

    For fun we might try imagining what sorts of clues an engineering project of such scale would leave behind.

    What would it possibly mean to ‘create’ a universe?

    Before there was no universe, God did something, and now there is a universe.

    Do we mean a conscious act? How could we demonstrate that?

    The definition asserts he is the doer, not how he does it.

    How would we distinguish between a created thing and a “non-created” thing? We’d need examples of both types of things to compare. However this definition says that the entire universe is created, (except maybe ‘god’ which is no help because that’s the thing we seek.) Using this definition means that no control sample is possible. Therefore, no evidence is possible.

    Then your answer to Chipmunk’s question could simply be “nothing”. I don’t see a problem with that. He can say that he won’t accept it, but so what? It’s the “no definition” or “no definition I can use” that I’m working on here.

    I’d also point out, that this definition doesn’t really live up to the word ‘god’ as it is generally understood. At the very least, the ‘gods’ of monotheistic faiths are also assumed to be “good” and “worthy of worship.” Even if we could prove that a “creator and sustainer of the universe” exists, I’d contend we still haven’t demonstrated “god.”

    It’s how I understand it generally. Also, you seem to be working with a definition of God. Therefore, I don’t see how you and I can be in disagreement over my point which is just that God is usefully defined for the purposes of these debates and questions, and has been many times over.

    That we can dismiss these Gods is a testament to our acceptance of the superiority of reason and science as tools for discovery, and our ability to use them in place of blind faith.

    The usefulness of the definitions stands as far as I’m concerned, and you too apparently.

  206. In reply to #235 by The Jersey Devil:

    God – creator and sustainer of the universe.

    OK. But what if it turns out that the creator and sustainer of the universe looks more like gravity or some weird aspect of quantum mechanics than a human with super powers?

    Yep! Maybe with a bit of dark-matter or dark-energy thrown in on the “sustainer” bit!

    If so, then wouldn’t calling it a ‘God’ ahead of time create confusion?

    Yep! – None of this personification business, or infinite regression of creators though!

  207. In reply to #225 & #226 by BanJoIvie:

    Absolute tremendous work there sir….what a pleasure to read those comments. Oh to be so articulate and astute…doff’s cap in your direction.
    .

  208. In reply to #225 by BanJoIvie:

    You’re missing the point of the request for a definition. No one is asking for your personal definition of “god”. They are asking for ANY definition of “god” that meets the criteria of a testable hypothesis. Only testable hypotheses are capable of support or disproof through evidence. Since you ask for evidence, we MUST first have a hypothesis for which evidence is possible. Many people here are trying to get you to consider that the term ‘god’ may not allow for any definition that will permit evidenced examination. Seriously. That’s not dogma, it’s a serious point.

    Thank you for pointing that out. You make a very good point, and I understand that my frustration mirrors largely that seen by many of you. I have been frustrated by the fact that nobody will give a definition of a god that would be testable, and you are frustrated that I will not do the same. As we are denying the existence of gods in a wholesale fashion, the evidence to suggest the existence of any god (even an undefined god) would be enough to cause me to accept the possibility of god’s existence while further evidence would be required to win my loyalty. That being the case, I am sympathetic of your frustrations (as I have been feeling the same way). I still feel that to reject a possibility due to lack of evidence either in the affermative or the negative is unscientific. I am still interested in the question. That being said, I will finish reading the new posts that have been made and I will attempt a definition of god. Please excuse me if my definition is flawed as I feel no more capable of properly defining god than any of you.

  209. In reply to #226 by BanJoIvie:

    But what if nothing would qualify as a god in my eyes? I honestly can’t think of anything that would. Can you suggest something that I should feel justified in calling ‘god’? What would that thing be like?

    […] what evidence would convince you of its validity?

    Right now, I can’t think of any…
    For example you said something earlier in the thread like “if you looked god in the face, would you accept that as evidence?” Well, on the one hand yes, of course that is evidence, but evidence of what? You can’t simply assert that I am looking ‘god’ in the face. because that begs the question again. If such a thing happened in reality, I would only know that I was looking something in the face, but why should I call that something “god”? What would it mean to call that face ‘god’? I don’t know, because I don’t know what a ‘god’ is. You see?

    Of course, you could simply assert that the definition of “god” is “that thing you are staring in the face.” If you did that, then yes, I would have to concede, that I would have evidence for “god.” (Assuming normal observational checks are in place to be sure I’m not hallucinating or simply mistaking a pattern in the wood paneling for a face.)

    But that wouldn’t really get us anywhere, would it? I could just as easily define “god” as my pet Jack Russell, and then I’d have all the evidence I could want that “god” exists. But if I said that, you’d accuse me of being silly. Then I’d have to ask you – sincerely – why my definition is silly and yours isn’t? Why should this hypothetical face deserve to be called god while it would be silly to use the term for my dog? What properties distinguish a silly definition from a serious one? What traits would make something worthy of the name “god.” Are any of those traits testable?

    Fantastic points! Thank you for thinking about the question and giving such an insightful answer. I will still try to give you a better working definition soon.

  210. In reply to #230 by Sean_W:

    I think you’ve done an excellent job Chipmunk.

    —-//—-

    God – creator and sustainer of the universe.

    Let me fix that for you….

    Physics – creator and sustainer of the universe….No gods required.

    That’s a working definition.

    Yep! a working definition of the physics of cosmology

    God = physics, is no different to what BanJoIvie said about god = alien. Both terms exist already.

    What you have defined is Deism. “God exists, created and governs the universe.”, but doesn’t get involved.

    This brings nothing to the table because it cannot be verified either way.

    I consider deism to be a mistaken belief, as it requires that some form of mind can exist without substance: it is a view that proposes an incorrect ‘mind-first’ view of reality. This appears to be utterly impossible, in the same way that software running without hardware is impossible: minds only come into existence when information is shuffled around in various ways, and information is these days a distinctly physical concept.

    It is also well known and seems to be assumed by all the monotheistic faiths.

    Monotheistic faiths don’t stop at those two points though…just about all invoke anthropomorphic agency and supernatural powers..

    It’s not only monotheistic faiths that posit a creator god and a sustainer god, some faiths even allocated the responsibilities to two or more gods…but that’s because religions are ignorant of physics.

    To ask what evidence we would accept for a God does not require anything more than that. You can certainly offer more, but it isn’t necessary.

    Unfortunately that is just not the case because the definition is too weak.

    You’re looking for a creator. Did you create the universe? Do you now sustain the universe?

    You have just given the universe creator and sustainer a pile of other attributes there.

    Many of the other commonly talked about attributes of God are inferred from these two: creator and sustainer. How can you create a universe? You must be x, y, z where these are the other attributes of the God assumed by many people to exist.

    Not assumed to exist, necessarily needs to exist for any way of providing evidence for your hypothesis.

    We have a definition. It may be impossible for a thing so defined to exist, or to have discovered it, and the attributes assigned to it may be born from ignorance, and their consequences debated. But it is defined, many times over all over the world.

    God, physics, big bang…you say tomata, I say tomato, let’s call the whole thing off.

  211. In reply to #234 by BanJoIvie:

    I guess that’s something in the way of an apology for the length of my posts. I just don’t seem to be able to say what I want to say more concisely. I’m trying though!

    Don’t apologise…your comments a treat to read. Certainly don’t stop.

  212. In reply to #235 by The Jersey Devil:

    My understanding is that prior to the discovery of Biological Evolution, it was postulated that an intelligent designer was required to explain the complexity of living things. That turned out to be false. Why go down a similar road with the origin of the universe?

    Why make assumptions ahead of time then look for the evidence to support those assumptions?

    To answer your question about assumptions: because that is how we perform science. We look at a phenomena, we create a hypothesis, and we search for a way to test that hypothesis. Here, the phenomena is existence, the hypothesis is that there is a god who is responsible for it, and the way to test that hypothesis is the purpose of this entire thread.

    The thing is that what you are talking about is god-of-the-gaps. The fact that we can, or cannot explain the mechanism behind a process is not, in and of itself, an evidence for the existence or non-existence of god. It would take something else. To find evidence that there is a god is not the same as finding that there are questions we cannot yet answer.

  213. In reply to #237 by Sean_W:

    Generally, I think our actual disagreement is minor. The distinction between us, I assert, is that I am taking Chipmunk’s question literally and seriously as it was presented. The OP specifically says that “rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found” is unacceptable. I’m trying to point out that, given those criteria, we require a definition that is capable of evidenced investigation. I don’t think yours meets that standard.

    Reason and science enable us to search for anything we can imagine and also to dismiss things as nonsense.

    Yes reason and science allows us to do both of these things. One or the other, but not both at the same time. Either we can dismiss something as nonsense, or we can search for it, we can’t really do both and still claim to be doing science. Chipmunk asked for a search so we need a definition that can’t be dismissed as nonsense.

    You spend some time doing just that below.

    No, I spend some time dismissing nonsense, but no time doing any searching. A scientific search requires a hypothesis to test.

    No, you can assume it is created and sustained.

    You can, but you wouldn’t be acting rationally. The whole point is to propose evidence for god in the universe as we observe it, not as we assume it to be prior to observation.

    A failure to find evidence of such may point to the non-existence of a creator and sustainer, but not to a problem with the definition. (Unless you’re a theist who’s hung his hat on that God, in which case you should change the definition and try again -a disinterested heir perhaps?)

    It could point to BOTH the non-existence of a creator AND a problem with the definition, depending on what sort of definition is needed for your stated purpose. There’s nothing inherently “not-definition” in a string of nonsense words UNLESS you require a testable definition capable of generating hypotheses. Chipmunks question contains such a requirement, so I believe we have not reached that threshhold.

    For fun we might try imagining what sorts of clues an engineering project of such scale would leave behind.

    That might be fun. But it would require us to assume that “creation” is materially similar to “engineering project.” You say “The definition asserts he is the doer, not how he does it.” Yet here you are making how assumptions. I see no practical way to imagine such clues when we don’t know anything at all about “creation” in the sense god is alledged to do it. In colloquial terms, we say an engineer “creates” a project, but there is no resemblence between engineering and ex nihilo creation. The same word is used, but only metaphorically. How can we imagine evidence for a process with no known properties?

    Before there was no universe, God did something, and now there is a universe.

    Okay, I’ll bite. How does that definition of creation allow you to imagine possible evidence that it occurred? I can’t think of a way, but I freely admit that my failure doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

    The definition asserts he is the doer, not how he does it.

    True, but without knowing anything about the how there is no way to look for traces of the work.

    Then your answer to Chipmunk’s question could simply be “nothing”.

    Yes it could. In fact, it is.

    I don’t see a problem with that.

    I don’t either, in principle, but that answer was ruled out from the beginning for purposes of discussion. My only point is that such a rule means you have to have a testable definition.

    He can say that he won’t accept it, but so what?

    So I’m trying to challenge Chipmunk’s assertion that it is irrational to reject ‘god’ unless you can propose evidence to prove he exists.

    It’s the “no definition” or “no definition I can use” that I’m working on here.

    I see. I concede that you are technically correct. A useless definition still technically qualifies as a definition. If I slip again in future, please mentally insert the adjective “useful” when I am discussing definitions.

    It’s how I understand it generally. Also, you seem to be working with a definition of God. Therefore, I don’t see how you and I can be in disagreement over my point which is just that God is usefully defined for the purposes of these debates and questions, and has been many times over.

    We weren’t asked for a definition suitable for debate. Chipmunk asked for proposals for evidence. This necessarily requires us to seek definitions using a higher standard.

    That we can dismiss these Gods is a testament to our acceptance of the superiority of reason and science as tools for discovery, and our ability to use them in place of blind faith.

    Here we agree.

    The usefulness of the definitions stands as far as I’m concerned, and you too apparently.

    I accept that we disagree on this point. (Sort of. There’s probably less light between our two positions than it may appear.) However, I’ll be the arbiter of what does and does not “stand” for me. Thank you very much. On this narrow point, I can’t agree with you. Your definition contains unjustified assumptions and it falls short of encompassing the entire concept of ‘god’ as it is generally discussed. I fail to see how such a definition is “useful.”

  214. In reply to #239 by Ignorant Amos:

    You’re too kind, and certainly no slouch yourself. I’ve followed your comments with interest and admiration.

  215. In reply to #240 by Chipmunk:

    Thanks for taking the time to read my long ramblings and to respond. I’ll start with a simple question.

    What does this mean?

    As we are denying the existence of gods in a wholesale fashion, the evidence to suggest the existence of any god (even an undefined god) would be enough to cause me to accept the possibility of god’s existence

    I honestly can’t imagine what “evidence to suggest the existence of […] an undefined god” could possibly mean. Can you explain it? If you don’t have a definition of the thing you seek, what would it mean to have evidence for it?

    Also, I’m not really denying the existence of gods in a wholesale fashion. I am asserting that no concept of god I have ever encountered survives rational scrutiny. I withhold my belief until that changes. I remain open to new evidence. I just can’t imagine what form such evidence could possibly take, due to the severe limitations of the nebulous concept, “god”.

    I still feel that to reject a possibility due to lack of evidence either in the affermative or the negative is unscientific.

    I don’t agree. Reason requires us to assume the absence of any entity until we have evidence to support it’s existence. If we truly have no evidence either way – none of any kind – then we are justified – no required – by logic to assume that the “thing” in question does not exist. Doing the opposite would force us to accept every imaginable yet unfalsifiable thing. Clearly untennable. Of course, we are free to pick and chose which imagined but unevidenced things we want to believe in, but such belief would necessarily be based on faith, not on logic or reason.

    However, even if I accepted your assertion here, you would still have to establish that “god” is a “possibility” before your axiom cold be applied. I have reason to suspect that ‘god ‘ may not actually be logically possible, at least not by any definition I can think of for the term “god.” Until I know what “god” means, I have no idea if it is possible or not.

    I will attempt a definition of god.

    Cool. I look forward to it. Thanks for considering the challenge.

    Please excuse me if my definition is flawed as I feel no more capable of properly defining god than any of you.

    No excuses necessary. I already strongly suspect that your definition will be flawed, because in all my searching I have never come across one that wasn’t. That being said, I promise not to prejudge you effort and to read it with an open mind.

    Peace.

  216. In reply to #244 by Chipmunk:

    Here, the phenomena is existence, the hypothesis is that there is a god who is responsible for it, and the way to test that hypothesis is the purpose of this entire thread.

    The fact that we can, or cannot explain the mechanism behind a process is not, in and of itself, an evidence for the existence or non-existence of god. It would take something else.

    But if a “being” made existence but did not make itself, then that being is not part of existence. Wouldn’t that make it non-existent?

    Before you think I’m being difficult for the sake of it, I’m really not. I don’t think calling the phenomenon “existence” is helpful. You are either using two different definitions of the word or the whole idea is incoherent. I think it’s the latter but maybe it would be helpful if you took another stab at it.

  217. Chipmunk’s first attempt at a working definition of god:

    1. God is the creator of not only the universe, but also the rules that govern the universe.

    2. God (if relevant and worthy of our loyalty) has the potential to meaningfully impact our lives as human beings (in this life, in a continuation of life after the death of our bodies, or both).

    I suppose at the end of the day you could call such a being whatever you would like, but the implications would be the same. What evidence of such a being would suggest its existence to such a degree that you would accept it as plausible?

  218. In reply to #244 by Chipmunk:

    Why make assumptions ahead of time then look for the evidence to support those assumptions?

    To answer your question about assumptions: because that is how we perform science.

    Is it?

    Well, I suppose it depends on ones definition of the word ‘assumption’.

    The Jersey Devil is obviously referring to the… “The act of taking for granted, or supposing a thing without proof; a supposition; an unwarrantable claim.”

    Scientists don’t make the assumption (take for granted, suppose a gods existence) there is a god and then form an hypothesis.

    Here, the phenomena is existence,…

    Here, the phenomena is existence of a particular thing

    …the hypothesis is that there is a god who is responsible for it, and the way to test that hypothesis is the purpose of this entire thread.

    The hypothesis is that there is a particular thing that is responsible for it, and the way to test that hypothesis is the purpose of this entire thread.

    What evidence would convince you of the existence of this particular thing.

    Silly isn’t it?

    Particular thing or god…they both have exactly the same attributes according to you and are of no importance to your original proposition, so tell me, bearing in mind…

    ” I am however curious, when it comes to the existence of a particular thing, what evidence, if found, would be sufficient to convince you that such a particular thing does, in reality, exist? Because if we are rejecting the existence of a particular thing solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.”

    …what evidence would you accept for the existence for this particular thing?

  219. In reply to #249 by Chipmunk:

    Chipmunk’s first attempt at a working definition of god:

    God is the creator of not only the universe, but also the rules that govern the universe.

    That is deism.

    No god required…physics is better an explanation, ergo, no evidence would cut it for this hypothesis of a god.

    God (if relevant and worthy of our loyalty) has the potential to meaningfully impact our lives as human beings (in this life, in a continuation of life after the death of our bodies, or both).

    This is theism.

    “Theism, in this specific sense, conceives of God as personal, present and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe.”

    This god requires agency. I can’t think of any evidence for this hypothesis of god that could not be better explained by better alternatives.

    I suppose at the end of the day you could call such a being whatever you would like, but the implications would be the same. What evidence of such a being would suggest its existence to such a degree that you would accept it as plausible?

    None.

  220. *In reply to #251 by Ignorant Amos:

    None

    I think this is an important answer. If there is a correct answer as to the existence or non-existence of god (at least by my definition) it is outside of the bounds of science to answer. Science has limits. I think it is ok to admit when we don’t know an answer. Are there leprechauns? I don’t know. I would imagine not, but new evidence could change my mind.

  221. the evidence to suggest the existence of any god (even an undefined god) would be enough to cause me to accept the possibility of god’s existence while further evidence would be required to win my loyalty.

    I honestly have no idea what you mean by that, and it’s been the source of my confusion about your position. I wonder if you could elaborate. I really think it would be valuable if you attempted to explain it without using the word “god”. I don’t see the harm in it and I think it might help.

    1.God is the creator of not only the universe, but also the rules that govern the universe

    What does “the universe” encompass? I’ll bet you think that should be obvious but it isn’t. Did this character give birth to the the universe? Did this character build the universe? If so, what did this character build the universe out of? And what is this character made of? Is this character like a farmer who planted the universe and waters and weeds it? No matter what, we’re left with the question of why is there a creator to begin with? Is she the first mover? What’s a first mover? Why a who and not a what?

    Amos is right about physics. Physics continues to explain things and gods never really did. Gods have a record of being made up by humans and physics has a record of explaining reality. You’re a scientist. What experiment would you propose to find a character where there seems to be only physics?

    2.God (if relevant and worthy of our loyalty) has the potential to meaningfully impact our lives as human beings (in this life, in a continuation of life after the death of our bodies, or both).

    Again, I don’t understand what you mean about “life after the death of our bodies”. We are our bodies. All the evidence seems to point that way.

    And let’s forget about the universe for now. Let’s talk about this planet. If some character were responsible for the history of life on this planet, most of which is not human, most of which suffered and suffer in unspeakable ways, just to “meaningfully impact ” one tiny point in the continuum, it is not worthy of my loyalty. I don’t like this character one bit. I don’t feel loyalty to something that starts the fire and then rescues me from the flames. I know we’re just talking about hypotheticals, but I think you and I have very different concepts of “meaningfully impact”.

    Back to your main point, I’d have to say that character implies mind and a mind requires existence with all of the laws in place. How would we have a mind before existence creating existence? What sort of experiments would you propose?

    Seeing a face wouldn’t do it at all. We are naturally selected to see faces even when there is no face there.

    You ask me what sort of evidence I would accept. What sort of evidence do you propose?

  222. In reply to #245 by BanJoIvie:

    Thank you for the conversation, you are helping me to clarify my thoughts on some points and I may in fact be misunderstanding or splitting hairs. I would just like to summarize my thinking and hopefully show clearly what I am opposed to.

    I think a definition of God like the one I provided is sufficient to express the idea of a God, but it is not enough to impart knowledge of that God. That knowledge would need to come from experimentation and observation, or else my God remains just an idea. But the idea is enough to spur and guide that investigation into the possibility that my God also correlates with reality as a knowable subject. Rather than just something inside our heads.

    Therefore when someone asks for evidence that would convince us it was possible to know God, it’s appropriate to ask which God, but not to refuse, or become stalled at the gate merely because their definition fails to describe in full those things necessary to say we know God. We can infer, as you have done multiple times just in our conversation what might be necessary to go from their definition to a more robust explanation capable of describing a knowledge of God.

    Now the reason I’m thinking along these lines is because it’s through all of the science performed until now that we can confidently say to every believer that their God is merely an idea. So if a believer tells me that their God is a creator I might discuss why we don’t need a God to create us because we have evolution.

    But they can keep there definition of God, and I may understand what they mean -some Gods really do defy all understanding- it’s just that we can’t know him.

  223. In reply to #252 by Chipmunk:

    None

    I think this is an important answer. If there is a correct answer as to the existence or non-existence of god (at least by my definition) it is outside of the bounds of science to answer.

    That is right…

    Science doesn’t draw conclusions about supernatural explanations

    “Do gods exist? Do supernatural entities intervene in human affairs? These questions may be important, but science won’t help you answer them. Questions that deal with supernatural explanations are, by definition, beyond the realm of nature — and hence, also beyond the realm of what can be studied by science. For many, such questions are matters of personal faith and spirituality.”

    Science has limits. I think it is ok to admit when we don’t know an answer.

    Yep, it’s just fine to admit when there is something that is not known. It also serves no purpose to make assumptions about what is not known ‘a la gods did it’. That is the issue with this thread. Something with no definition can’t be known. How can something that can’t be known possess evidence for its existence. Introduce definitions and things start to unravel. Its at that point certain things can be known.

    Are there leprechauns? I don’t know. I would imagine not, but new evidence could change my mind.

    Current understanding of Leprechaun mythology means the hypothesis is falsifiable. Of course, depending upon which part of Ireland one is in, will depend on which definition of a Leprechaun one is falsifying.

    That is why descriptive criteria when refuting any hypothesis is so very important. As has been witnessed in this thread.

    That is why it took 3 days and over 200 comments before you preferred a definition. I would say it was a struggle at that too.

    Because once an attribute is assigned to a god hypothesis, it is either supernatural, in which case all bets are off, or it is natural, in which case, the sleeves of the lab coats can be rolled up an scientists can pose a question, set an hypothesis, test and observe, collect data, re-test then conclude. I’m just saying that the conclusions will rule out a god, because gods are by their very nature, supernatural.

    “In practice, what’s natural is often identified by testability. Natural things behave in predictable ways — though we may not yet fully understand them — which have observable outcomes. This predictability means that we can test hypotheses about natural entities by making observations. Ghosts, for example, are supernatural entities without a basis in the physical universe and so are not subject to the laws of that universe. Hence, ghosts are outside the purview of science, and we cannot study their existence (or lack thereof) with the tools of science. If, however, we hypothesize ghosts to be natural entities, made up of matter and energy and bound by the laws of the universe, then we can study them with the tools of science — and must accept the outcome if the tests we perform suggest that ghosts do not exist as natural entities.” University of California Berkeley

    What new evidence would change your mind as to the existence of Leprechauns and change current understanding?

  224. What evidence? Any 3 of these would do nicely….

    • Slarty Bardfast’s signature on a glacier.
    • fossil rabbits in the precambrian
    • discovering I’ve been transformed into a fit, healthy, good looking 29 year old.
    • a taxfree billion dollars in my bank account, today, without any awkward questions from any law enforcement authorities. My account number is…. Oh, You Know.

    Yes, I’m not cheap. But if You really want this convert, You’re gonna have to pony up with the readies.

  225. In reply to #255 by Ignorant Amos:

    What new evidence would change your mind as to the existence of Leprechauns and change current understanding?

    That’s a very good question, Paul. It really is. It’s a great place to start.

    But the thing about leprechauns (my idea of the myth is limited and superficial as I didn’t grow up in Ireland so we outsiders only get the shallowest version) is that they are mischievous, they can talk you into almost anything, they can talk their way out of a jar if you manage to trap one of them, and they can grant you three wishes if you don’t fall for their tricks. There is no reason to imagine that they wouldn’t share their DNA with the rest of the life on this planet if we did discover them. Also, they make shoes and hide their wealth at the end of rainbows.

    A leprechaun theologian might explain that leprechauns can only grant three wishes if they are logically possible (who, as a child, didn’t imagine that their first wish would be an infinity of wishes?) and that the end of the rainbow bit is a metaphor now that science has explained the ends of rainbows. Still, we could sort out leprechauns. They are much tinier than humans. They can be trapped in jars. They wear green coats. They speak with delightful Irish accents. They make shoes. They hoard gold. They have all the hallmarks of “contingent” creatures in a world full of surprises. They are falsifiable.

    Leprechauns don’t involve language like “immaterial mind”, “creator” of “the universe”, “source of morality” , “ground of all being”, and all sorts of “omniness”, all semantic tricks that interestingly enough are ways of creating a character who cares only about humans and that is beyond evidence which conveniently confirms the brain states of hubristic humans.

    There are gods who are nothing but manifestations of human hubris, magic pills for humans who don’t want to suffer and die for” “nothing” (although they don’t care a whit that every other life form suffers and dies for” nothing” and because they are so obsessed with their own eternal “meaning” they spend no or little time giviing moral consideration to other life forms ). These gods are bed time stories that insist they are so real that they are beyond evidence.

    That’s the trouble with so many”gods”. There’s no stopping them. They care only about humans. They promise humans “infinite wishes” and so many humans are predisposed to settling for that that they are happy enough to build them a fortress beyond the evidence, behind “the universe”, so to speak.

    A claim without evidence is bad enough. A claim beyond evidence is something much worse. And to be called illogical because I won’t accept evidence for something for which no test is possible is the silliest thing I can imagine.

    Chipmunk has proposed two ideas. It has created “the universe” and it has put and continues to put hundreds of millions of life forms through hell to have a “meaningful” relationship with us. I won’t hold him accountable for all the other nonsense as he didn’t include it in his definition. (THANK YOU Chipmunk, for finally giving us a definition. As a scientist, you must know how crucial that is.) What experiments will provide data to support these combined ideas? Also, because you include the idea of a meaningful relationship, how do you morally defend the suggestion that it deserves our loyalty?

  226. @chipmunk

    If there is a correct answer as to the existence or non-existence of god (at least by my definition) it is outside of the bounds of science to answer.

    No. It isn’t. Science could ask what reality would look like if your (still) extremely vague idea were true vs.
    what it would look like if it wasn’t true. Actually, the ball should be in science’s court and they should be able to press you for clariification. The fact that it took over 200 comments to pin you down on anything at all wouldn’t go over well with science. And science would be more relentless than we have been. You’re a scientist. You should understand how the scientific method works.

    If you’re really interested in what science would say, you wouldn’t be on the one hand accusing us of rejecting an idea without evidence and on the other telling us that your definition of a god is outside of the bounds of science to answer. As a scientist, you must be well acquainted with the need for evidence, because humans are vulnerable to believing things even if they’re not true, because they so badly want to believe them. On top of that, you have suggested from the beginning that it is illogical to not accept ideas that are outside of “evidence” and asked us what “evidence” would convince us. Which would you like? Make up your mind.

    I have wondered throughout this thread (and I don’t mean this in an insulting way, so please don’t take it that way. I am SO tired of people feeling insulted as a means of defending themselves on rd.net lately, a place where I look for refuge from that sort of passive-aggressive hooey) whether the whole thread isn’t just a way for you to feel like you’re genuinely challengng your indoctrination without being willing to face it head on.

    I keep getting the impression that you are trying to keep a modicum of your christian upbringing alive, but need to go through enough motions to convince yourself that you are genuinely challenging those beliefs.

  227. @chipmunk

    I hereby request that you replace the word “god” or references like “a being” with the phrase “what I’m suggesting”. I just read most of the thread that way and I think it’s fair.

    I’m serious. Try it. It works. It explains everyone’s frustration, including yours.

    The discussion topic:

    I am however curious, when it comes to the existence of what I’m suggesting , what evidence, if found, would be sufficient to convince you that what I’m suggesting does, in reality, exist? Because if we are rejecting the existence of what I’m suggesting solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.

    Your eventual definition:

    Chipmunk’s first attempt at a working definition of what Chipmunk is suggesting:

    1. What I am suggesting is the creator of not only the universe, but also the rules that govern the universe.

    2.What I am suggesting (if relevant and worthy of our loyalty) has the potential to meaningfully impact our lives as human beings (in this life, in a continuation of life after the death of our bodies, or both).

    I suppose at the end of the day you could call what I am suggesting whatever you would like, but the implications would be the same. What evidence of what I’m suggesting would suggest its existence to such a degree that you would accept it as plausible?

    I closed my eyes and mouse clicked until I found a “god” reference and I ended up on IA’s:

    What Chipmunk is suggesting requires agency. I can’t think of any evidence for what Chipmunk is suggesting that could not be better explained by better alternatives

    I random clicked from there to make sure it still worked and that it was fair. Questioning Kat’s comment worked as did several others.

    When people ask for a “defintion of god”, replace it with “a clearer description of what you’re suggesting”. It works. You might see the thread and your argument in a whole different light. When others respond to “god” , replace it with “what Chipmunk is suggesting”. I’m not being facetious. I think you might see what all the fuss has been about.

    I also think that this is exactly the standard you woud be held to in your scientific life.

    It clarifies everyone else’s points as well. I think you’ll find it fair.

    Or maybe I’m just very sleepy.

    Good night everyone.

  228. Really great stuff happening here everyone! I have a few thoughts about the most recent input, but I’m REALLY swamped with work right now. I’ll try to post something a bit later. This is FUN! Thanks for the discussion Chipmunk.

  229. God, by all of the forms he’s described, is certainly not knowable by any of our senses. I suppose the question is simply how we can tell the difference between insanity and actual revelation. The question then can easily be reduced to the following: if a man blind since childhood can suddenly see, would/should he imagine he’s gone crazy, or realize there’s a world that he suddenly gained access to?

  230. I realize that I’ve overposted and will try to restrain myself but I have to ask Chipmunk how (according to part 2 of your definition) something can have the potential to “meaningfully impact our lives as humans” and still be “outside of the bounds of science”?

    How does that work?

  231. In reply to #258 by susanlatimer:

    On top of that, you have suggested from the beginning that it is illogical to not accept ideas that are outside of “evidence” and asked us what “evidence” would convince us. Which would you like? Make up your mind.

    The thing is that I am looking for an answer not simply making a point. I want to know what the evidence would be that would prove or disprove the hypothesis that there is a god. I just think it is unreasonable to say that the evidence leads you to reject a hypothesis when there is no evidence at all one way or the other. Being agnostic, but open to all possibilities seems rational in the lack of evidence, but making up your mind one way or the other does not.
    I am considering asking the I.D. people the same question, however I doubt I will find the answer there either.

  232. In reply to #262 by susanlatimer:

    I realize that I’ve overposted and will try to restrain myself but I have to ask Chipmunk how (according to part 2 of your definition) something can have the potential to “meaningfully impact our lives as humans” and still be “outside of the bounds of science”?

    How does that work?

    Great question! I would like to invite anyone else to field an answer as well as mine may be less than perfect.
    My example would be that of revelation: “What I am suggesting” could potentially speak directly to the minds of individuals (either all of us or prophets or whatever it may be). Kind of like what we always dreamed of in school where somebody just opens up our heads and dumps information in. The communication would be completely personal (and thus very difficult to quantify), but adherence to the principles taught could lead one to greater happiness, success, family stability, etcetera. This wouldn’t even be outside of the realm of science, but it would be a personal experiment and the results would be observable, but non-transferable to other people. If “what I am suggesting” is real, and worth following then the result of following such personal revelation should be consistently positive.
    I am certainly not asking for something that lies outside of the bounds of science. I would prefer an explanation that could be tested. Most people are simply suggesting that it would be impossible to test (which if true is not grounds to accept or deny my claim).

  233. I just think it is unreasonable to say that the evidence leads you to reject a hypothesis when there is no evidence at all one way or the other.

    If a murder was committed we probably expect to find some evidence of that fact. A corpse, blood spatter on the wall perhaps, a weapon and even more abstract evidence like a motive.

    If no murder was committed, what evidence would you expect to find?

    Besides, there is evidence that suggests there is no Christian God. Inconsistencies in scripture for one thing.

  234. I just think it is unreasonable to say that the evidence leads you to reject a hypothesis when there is no evidence at all one way or the other.

    If there is NO EVIDENCE, it is not a hypothesis in the first place, so there is no case to answer or reject, and no reasoned basis consider it further!

    You would be in no position to make ANY rational judgement of the reasonableness of rejecting an unevidenced non-hypothesis!

  235. In reply to #265 by The Jersey Devil:

    If no murder was committed, what evidence would you expect to find?

    Good question. I am not asking what evidence there is for no god, but what evidence it would take to convince you that there is. In this case, and given your example, if I found a dead body, or noticed that somebody had suspiciously disappeared it would make me begin to rethink my hypothesis that no murder had occurred. At that point I would begin to look for further evidence. I suppose that I could, however, assume that the body was a figment of my imagination or some sort of hallucination and continue believing that there was no murder. After all, there are a lot of more probable explanations for how the person may have died even if the body is real.

    Besides, there is evidence that suggests there is no Christian God. Inconsistencies in scripture for one thing.

    Okay, but is the Christian God the only possibility here? Is the evidence that there is no Christian God, or just that there are errors in Christian scripture?

  236. In reply to #254 by Sean_W:

    I return your thanks, for exactly the same reasons.

    I think a definition of God like the one I provided is sufficient to express the idea of a God, but it is not enough to impart knowledge of that God.

    I really like your distinction between “idea” and “knowledge,” and I mostly agree with this sentiment.
    I only take issue with a tiny part, your claim that your definition is “sufficient to express the idea of God.” While it may be sufficient to express AN idea, I maintain that “the idea of God” [your capitalization] carries a lot more baggage than “creator and sustainer” can carry.

    The key to my quibble is your use of the word “sufficient” and the fact that you tie it to the term “God.” Here’s why.

    Okay, so we differ over whether your definition is “sufficient” to the term “god” (or “God” which I’ll stop using at this point.) How can we decide which of us is right? I propose a test for the “sufficiency” of any definition.

    Can we think of something that would fit the definition, but would not be encompassed by the term it tries to define? If so, I submit that the definition is not “sufficient” to the term.

    I think I can come up with concepts that would fit the “creator and sustainer” definition that would fall outside the term “god.” A lot of them. Only one is needed for our test, so how about this. The universe could be created and sustained by forces of the sort which physics investigates. I propose that calling physical forces “gods” would be objectionable to the vast majority of people who use the term because they mean something more when they say ‘god’. Therefore, “creator and sustainer” is insufficient.

    From here we could begin to hash out our differences. Eventually you might revise your definition to explicitly include the term “conscious entity.” Then I’d raise another hypothetical which might cause us to specify that a ‘god’ has to be intentionally creating and sustaining a Universe. (As opposed to say, accidentally while doing something else. – I.e. ‘god’ has to ‘have a plan’ for the universe.) Then we might specify that a ‘god’ needs at least some ability to hear multiple simultaneous prayers all over the world (omnipresent?); or to outlive the universe it has created (immortal?), or to … etc. And the definition would grow.

    This goes on, with you adding little bits and clauses to your definition to exclude my various “ungodly” hypotheticals. Each revision brings us closer to something that resembles what most people mean when they say ‘god.’ Only each revision also calves off a few believers who’s particular definition of ‘god’ doesn’t meet the new standard. Eventually, might we reach a point where we’ve left behind more ‘gods’ than we have left? Might we still be shy of a definition we can test? I’m suggesting we might.

    Now in a sense, I’m proving your point. You provided a definition, and it’s enough to get a long conversation going. I agree while maintaining that we may never approach a useful definition because the term ‘god’ is too nebulous, too expansive, too laden with history and contradictory ideas to survive rigorous scrutiny as a cohesive concept.

    […] it’s appropriate to ask which God, but not to refuse, or become stalled at the gate […]

    I deny that requiring a good definition is a refusal to answer. I’m contending that – if we are “stalled” – it is not because I’m refusing, but because of a fundamental problem with the concept of ‘god.’

    We can infer, as you have done multiple times just in our conversation what might be necessary to go from their definition to a more robust explanation capable of describing a knowledge of God.

    I agree. But being able to infer a path forward doesn’t imply that we will actually arrive at a “robust explanation capable of describing a knowledge of God” (i.e. a useful definition.) You seem to be saying that we can assume this can be done and then skip ahead as though we had done it already. I can’t agree. I’ve never heard a cohesive, falsifiable, sufficient definition of the term god. I frankly doubt that one is possible. I think that this fact fatal to anyone who argues (as I think Chipmunk does) that – in the absence of evidence – believing in a ‘god’ is just as logical as rejecting the whole idea.

    Now the reason I’m thinking along these lines is because it’s through all of the science performed until now that we can confidently say to every believer that their God is merely an idea. So if a believer tells me that their God is a creator I might discuss why we don’t need a God to create us because we have evolution.

    Again I agree with this, mostly. We should challenge believers every time they offer“god” as an explanation for natural phenomena. We should use science to do so wherever science has already found answers. So far, science has won this encounter every time and “revealed knowledge” has been retreating into ever shrinking gaps. This win loss record should give believers pause, and is a good way to demonstrate that “god” is a poor explanation for anything we observe in nature.

    I only question your implication that we can ONLY reject god because science gives us better explanations. Both you and Chipmunk seem to assume that bringing science to bear on the concept is necessary before we can claim solid grounds for rejecting ‘god’(s). I disagree. I think we can – and should – reject god even in the absence of any scientific data, on the grounds that it is not a rationally cohesive concept.

    […] some Gods really do defy all understanding- it’s just that we can’t know him.

    If something defies understanding and cannot be known, I am rationally justified in rejecting its existence. I believe logic requires me to do so. I CAN offer better explanations and use science to do so. But I don’t require these to justify lack of belief.

  237. In reply to #268 by BanJoIvie:

    being able to infer a path forward doesn’t imply that we will actually arrive at a “robust explanation capable of describing a knowledge of God” (i.e. a useful definition.) You seem to be saying that we can assume this can be done and then skip ahead as though we had done it already.

    This is a problem and the fundamental flaw in Chipmunk’s original question.

    If something defies understanding and cannot be known, I am rationally justified in rejecting its existence. I believe logic requires me to do so.

    This is self-evident, but apparently not obvious. “God” is a language trick that makes us assume we have a coherent concept when there isn’t one there. It is not a premise, nor is it a hypothesis. It’s three letters that don’t mean anything. It’s a mirage.

  238. In reply to #267 by Chipmunk:

    I have to ask Chipmunk how (according to part 2 of your definition) something can have the potential to “meaningfully impact our lives as humans” and still be “outside of the bounds of science”?
    How does that work?

    (from Chipmunk)

    My example would be that of revelation: “What I am suggesting” could potentially speak directly to the minds of individuals (either all of us or prophets or whatever it may be). Kind of like what we always dreamed of in school where somebody just opens up our heads and dumps information in.

    I appreciate you playing along with my “what I am suggesting” substitution. It was very late and I was desperate to find a way to turn your initial question into a way of generating a workable hypothesis. I knew it wasn’t ideal and when I read it today, I wished I hadn’t posted it, but anyway, it’s a step closer than “god”. I hope you’ll understand that a workable hypothesis would require me to ask, “How would that work?” You are looking for evidence, after all.

    The communication would be completely personal (and thus very difficult to quantify), but adherence to the principles taught could lead one to greater happiness, success, family stability, etcetera.

    Greater than what? Quantified against what other variables? Self-hypnosis, self-delusion, the placebo effect, social pressures to act happy no matter what dark secrets lurk in your community complicate matters. What are “success” and “family stability” when weighed against environmental degradation and the suppression or exploitation of other humans and non-humans? Remember, what you’re suggesting made “the universe”. It can’t be found in the apparent “happiness and success” of small (or large) groups of humans oblivious to “the universe” that made them, nor can it be protected from the moral issues that are implicit in “the universe” ( in our case, our impact on the sentient life forms that pre-date and surround “us” on our tiny planet).

    And even if some character could whisper in our ear advice that would make a community (on superficial examination) appear to prosper, without factoring in the negative impact it might have on the prosperity of the rest of the life forms on this planet, what does that have to do with it being a mind without existence that created existence? Why would we think it made “the universe”?

    It’s semantics all the way down.

  239. Hi Chipmunk,

    This is getting lively! I love it. Thanks for your stab at a definition. As you may have guessed, I don’t think it’s enough to let me answer your question. I may take a stab at a longer post explaining why, but part of the reason is addressed in my comments in #268 to Sean_W about “sufficiency.”

    Right now I want to focus on a point you have raised many times in different ways. In the OP:

    […] if we are rejecting the existence of god solely due to the lack of evidence that could never be found, then, it seems to me, we are not being any more logical than any other religious group.

    In comment 263:

    Being agnostic, but open to all possibilities seems rational in the lack of evidence, but making up your mind one way or the other does not.

    In comment 264:

    Most people are simply suggesting that it would be impossible to test (which if true is not grounds to accept or deny my claim).

    …and in other places which I can recall but won’t track down right now.

    You offer this as your reason for requesting evidence. To me, this repeated assertion is the reason I’m reluctant to overlook the definitional problems with ‘gods’ and just speculate about evidence.

    I believe you are simply wrong on this point. I feel like overlooking that to attempt the type of answers you want would implicitly let it your assertion stand.

    In logical reasoning, the claim that something – anything – exists, cannot be weighted equally to the claim that same thing does not exist. If we truly have no evidence either way, we are required by Occam’s razor, or by the notion of parsimony to assume the simpler of two possibilities, the one which proposes fewer “entities;” i.e. that any proposed but unevidenced “thing” does not exist. This presumption – like all rational knowledge – is obviously provisional, and considered open to revision in light of future evidence. But it is a rational presumption.

    If in addition, we are talking about a proposition for which no evidence is possible, that’s not a neutral fact. Such a concept is non-falsifiable, and therefore non-scientific by definition. We count this fact against the proposal.

    The reasons for this are pretty straight forward.

    One arises from probability. In theory, we can imagine an infinite number of “things” which might or might not exist. In the absence of any compelling reason to decide either way, the odds that any specific thing we dream up just happens to actually exist, is vanishingly small. (See Russell’s teapot, the dragon in Carl Sagan’s garage, etc.)

    Another reason stems from the inherent difference between positive and negative claims. The presumptive arrow always goes toward the negative claim, because it is technically impossible to prove a negative claim. This is what we mean by the burden of proof lying with the positive assertion.

    Of course this rule means that we will certainly withhold belief from some “things” that do in fact exist outside our knowledge. But this fact is no help to any specific thing we want to justify believing in without evidence. The odds are astronomically against the things we imagine and the things that exist outside our knowledge being the same by chance alone. We have no choice but to rely on progress and discovery to reveal new things as the frontiers of science advance. The chances of our simply dreaming up real things with no reason and no evidence are effectively nil.

    You suggest in 263, that there is a third choice. Should we place a burden of proof on neither existence nor non-existence? Shouldn’t we just say, “I don’t know?” What of agnosticism? I consider this a red herring which amounts to special pleading on behalf of one’s pet belief.

    Reserving judgment is still withholding belief. And saying “I have no idea whether x exists” is not materially different from saying, “I don’t believe in it.” In fact, all agnostics are de facto atheists, because they lack an affirmative belief in any god. In practice, the vast majority of atheists – even many so called “positive atheists” are also “technically agnostic” as Richard calls it in The God Delusion.

    In a true evidence vacuum, giving equal weight to positive and negative claims is not objectivity, it’s bias.

    The notion that something might exist cannot stop us from rejecting it – no matter how much we really like an idea. Otherwise we will certainly delude ourselves. And saying that extremely high stakes justify ignoring the proper burden of proof (as Pascal did with his wager) does no good. We can just as easily imagine equally high stakes for a different, contradictory idea, and without evidence we have no way to judge between them. We can only reject them all pending further data.

    Even if I were to grant that the concept of “god” is logically possible under any sufficient definition (I do not) I’d still have to reject it until there was evidence (which I cannot currently imagine.) Assuming of course, that I wish to use reason to draw my conclusion. If I’m willing to accept faith as a valid basis for belief, then the rules change. But you opened with an appeal to rationality, which is the opposite of faith.

  240. In reply to #268 by BanJoIvie:

    Hi BanJoIvie, just a few more thoughts. First, I apologize for not going point by point. I’m not convinced that’s the best way to approach this. If need be I’ll go back and do that.

    —-//—-

    I think asking for a definition of God because you believe that it
    cannot be meaningfully defined, and then arguing that the God
    defined doesn’t meet your criteria for God demonstrates that you’re working
    with a defined and useful concept.

    If you have criteria by which to determine what qualifies as a God then we
    disagree about nothing.

    How could these criteria not constitute part of a
    meaningful and useful definition of God? An obvious and necessary use being the ability to
    identify what is not a God by comparing against what is a God.

    You touched on this briefly with your test. Unfortunately by not specifying that I meant
    creator – “someone” – and assuming people would use that meaning of the word
    when they read “creator and sustainer” I allowed you and others to go
    off track. But I do mean creator – “someone”, so I don’t need to deal
    with the physics objection.

    Most of the other objections consist of why such a
    being is not necessary or trying to find out how such a being could create
    and sustain. But it is not very sensible in my opinion to demonstrate the problems
    such a being would face and then say that because of them the idea of such a being is
    meaningless. Its impotence in the real world does not negate its meaning as a concept.

    Like it or not God occupies a meaningful space in the realm of ideas. As a creator
    he made the heavens and the Earth. As one who sustains he keeps them in motion.

  241. In reply to #272 by Sean_W:

    No need to apologize or to go point-by-point. That’s just my normal way of working as I tend to need the organization. I’ll try to give it a pass this time though.

    The fact that I have criteria which can identify a definition’s failures, is not the same as knowing all the criteria needed for a definition to succeed. Having a process is not the same as having a product. In addition. Even if we did know all of the necessary properties for a useful definition of ‘god’, that does not imply that those properties are logically possible. I agree that we have enough to start working on a definition, but “I know what ‘god’ is not ” is just not the same as “I know what ‘god’ is.”

    Say I have a box, which I cannot see inside, I can tell you an infinite number of things that are not in the box. This does not allow me to know what is in the box.

    Again, you are simply assuming that the defining process will eventually be productive. You have no basis for that assumption. We have a place to start, and a way to proceed, yes. I simply don’t agree that this necessarily means that we will arrive at a working definition before we reach the point at which the vast majority of “gods” do not fit the bill. If most people who use a word are referring to a concept that does not fit our definition, in what way can we meaningfully say that our definition fits that word? The concept of god is so large and so varied that we can never pen a definition that would gain a meaningful consensus.

    We also may be forced to accept logical impossibilities into our definition in order for it to apply to the word “god.” If that is so, we could never arrive at a useful definition, even if we overcame the first problem and managed a meaningful one.

    Therefore the word itself is useless, because the concept it seeks to contain, cannot be contained. I strongly suspect that it cannot be defined in a way that lets us derive testable hypotheses.

    Okay, I lied. I’m going to do just a couple of “point-by-points.” I’ll be as brief as possible.

    How could these criteria not constitute part of a meaningful and useful definition of God?

    I never claimed that we do not have part of a useful definition. I said we don’t have a whole one, or even enough of it to serve Chipmunk’s stated purpose. I can have parts of a clock, but there is a threshold of necessary parts before I have enough of a clock to actually tell time.

    An obvious and necessary use being the ability to identify what is not a God by comparing against what is a God.

    Necessary but not sufficient.

    -+-+-+-

    I’ll leave aside your defense of the implied “someone” in your definition. I already acknowledged that you probably intended it in my previous post, and I only offered it as a first example of how we would begin refining your definition. A point you concede when you say you “assumed” that your definition contained terms that were not explicit.

    Most of the other objections consist of why such a being is not necessary […]

    No. I didn’t mean to offer any objections to the necessity of the concept of god. I’d have to concede that the concept made inherent sense before we could even discuss whether it is necessary.

    […] or trying to find out how such a being could create and sustain.

    Again. No. I’m not asking how such a being could create and sustain. You assert that creating and sustaining are the definitional properties of such a being, and I am saying that you cannot do that unless you know in turn what creating and sustaining actually mean. I contend that you do not – not even in part. So these terms cannot be used in your defiition. That’s not defining, it’s replacing one undefined variable with another. You are just kicking the can down the road.

    But it is not very sensible in my opinion to demonstrate the problems such a being would face and then say that because of them the idea of such a being is meaningless.

    “Creating” and “sustaining” are not “problems such a being would face.” They are more than just some things this “god” might do or attempt. They are the defining properties you offer to identify such a being. If those two terms are meaningless (i.e. undefined), then the term you are defining with them is also meaningless.

  242. I’ll say this then I’ll abandon this thread because it gets me thinking too long on things that don’t do me any good in my day-to-day ‘real’ life.

    The observations that I’ve made in my life lead me to believe there is no god of any variety. What evidence would I need to see to change my mind? I don’t know. The world would just need to be different from what I’ve experienced so far.

    Mind you, in my younger days I honestly believed that I had a revelation and that ‘God’ had impacted my life for the better. It had to do with Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps. I really did truly believe. But after a decade of sitting in AA meetings, listening, observing, trying to gain a conscious connection with a ‘higher power’ and reading all kinds of literature, I realized I had been duped by things like the echo chamber effect, confirmation bias and ignorance of things like control groups etc.

    Also, I now believe that a lot of vague language was used to describe each person’s (AA member’s) personal conception of a higher power and that this perpetuated this illusion hence the need to define ‘God’.

  243. In reply to #273 by BanJoIvie:

    I still have a few things I can contribute but it will have to wait. I just wanted to quickly say that I’m enjoying your posts immensely.

  244. In reply to #275 by Sean_W:

    I’m enjoying your posts as well. You really have me thinking.

    I just want to state for the record, and for anyone still lurking, that I’m not trying to “Gish gallop” anybody. I recognize that smart people disagree with me, and have valid points. Even though I tend to create overlong posts, I fully recognize that arguments aren’t won by word count.

  245. Most of the responses refer to the kind of god religions posit. I’m in general agreement with most of them as I find religion in all forms mad. Equally, I’m indifferent to the moral discussions which follow so often in the various religions’ trains (as I think these issues, vitally important though they are to us humans, are local issues of no importance to any other feature of the universe and mistakenly assumed by us to have importance outside the human realm). But I find myself, reluctantly, slightly closer to the Creationists’ camp than I like when I reflect on First Causes. Neither astronomers, evolutionists nor any other scientist offers convincing explanations for “Why?” beyond promising to do their best to explain various interesting and important things back to the Big Bang and perhaps further – well worth doing but not the ultimate question. Sneering at religions, Creationism and so on is well worth doing, I believe, and I hope it goes from strength to further strength but religions, dopey as they are, have the single strength (I was going to say redeeming feature but can’t bring myself to be quite that tolerant) of asking the question Science is unlikely ever to answer since it’s inconceivable it will ever have the tools – not, at any rate, without invoking ideas which are not presently respectable. And even then…

  246. In reply to #277 by jburnforti:

    Equally, I’m indifferent to the moral discussions which follow so often in the various religions’ trains (as I think these issues, vitally important though they are to us humans, are local issues of no importance to any other feature of the universe and mistakenly assumed by us to have importance outside the human realm).

    Moral issues are indeed local to human activity.

    But I find myself, reluctantly, slightly closer to the Creationists’ camp than I like when I reflect on First Causes. Neither astronomers, evolutionists nor any other scientist offers convincing explanations for “Why?”

    Like moral questions, there are no answers to “WHY?” beyond individual or collective human objectives – unless you want to impose one of the multitudes of dogmatic versions of, “god-did-it-according-to-our-book-of-myths”!

    You can ask “WHY?” but the succession of informed answers, will always be answers to “HOW?” leading to the honest answer of, “We don’t know” at some point ( at present around the area of the big-bang). There will also be “answers” from people who also don’t know, but have made-up “answers”, by the revelatory process of wishful thinking!

    beyond promising to do their best to explain various interesting and important things back to the Big Bang and perhaps further – well worth doing but not the ultimate question.

    “Ultimate questions” whether “questions” or “creator gods” suffer from infinite regressions for which there are no answers.

    Science is unlikely ever to answer since it’s inconceivable it will ever have the tools – not, at any rate, without invoking ideas which are not presently respectable. And even then…

    Science has perfectly respectable objective information about gods! They look as if they are part of the subconscious in the brains of believers! As neuroscience develops research further, confirmations seem likely.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/god-spot-in-brain-is-not–n-1440518.html

  247. God is an idea that has entered our brain; some of us reject this idea because it is not only superfluous but there is no credible evidence to support it.
    I think the latest insights should tell us that self-conscience or awareness is a consequence of our self-referencing brain.
    Once our brain is able to distinguish information about its own physical and mental states and from information it receives from the outside world, it is able to recognize a similarity between the first and what it perceives from itself from the second. This is where a tiny “i” is born. Because the this “i” is confirmed again and again, it grows to the “I” we know, which we normally take as granted, but which seems a mystery if we think about it.
    Awareness is not embodied in a separate part of the brain, in a similar way a loop is not embodied in a part of a line; the fact that a line connects to itself makes it a loop.
    Albert Einstein once remarked: “People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”() Since humans don’t have a sense for time, like a sense for light, taste or sound, we need to be convinced that something like time exists. Normally that is not too difficult, as we see that causes are followed by effects, things grow older, not younger etc. However, in quantum mechanics the idea of cause and effect breaks down.
    If you think about it, Einstein cold have use space instead of time, for the same reason.
    Likewise, we don’t have a sense of our own “I”, but is this also an illusion like time or space? Consider the fact that we always assume that our ”I” is looking from the inside of our head to the world in front of our eyes. Now think what would happen if our eyes were placed a little distance above our head. I am sure we get a sensation that we are above our own head. Since we are rational, we see a discrepancy between this sensation and what we learn by inspection with our other senses, so we assume the body has a shape in which the eyes are placed above the head and since this assumption is always confirmed, we take it for reality.
    My conclusion is, that instead of considering “I” as an illusion, it is the most convincing idea of what ”I” really is, because it has relevance and it is confirmed in uncountable ways.
    Time and space are also real for us, because of their relevance and their effects we perceive with our senses, although we know that these have properties which are normally hidden to us.
    I would like to think that in English, common sense is the term used for the collection of knowledge that is undisputed and that does not contain controversial knowledge.
    All these knowledge is relevant and sufficiently confirmed by evidence.
    Examples of common sense ideas are “I”, ”time”, ”space”, “water”,”love”, ”fun”, “nervous”, “pain”.

    Enter the idea ”God”.
    People have not only different ideas about the relevance of God, but they have also different opinions of what God is; moreover they have different ideas about manifestations of God.
    I think a scientist does not see the relevance of God, because it would make reality more complex without providing a better explanation of reality, so Ockham’s Razor makes short work of God.
    An atheist would agree with the scientist, but since believers are the people who call him an atheist, he would point to the fact that there a many definitions of what God is and that there is not one single credible report of a manifestation of God, no matter what definition is used.

    There are also people who believe in a God that is not part of the physical universe, and in my view this must be an illusion that is only supported by introspection.
    Introspection alone cannot get rid of illusions, because testing hypotheses by finding similarities between predicted and perceived phenomena from the outside world is not done; if perceived manifestations if these illusions are also obtained via introspection, the validity of the testing is undermined.
    From a physical point of view, a God that is not part of the physical universe has no way of communicating, because communication implies information, which in turn implies energy and this leads to a contradiction, because energy is a physical entity.
    Also the much used reasoning that absence of evidence is no evidence of absence would imply that everything is possible, and since not everything is possible, this way of reasoning is false.
    The claim that God is relevant as the source of morality is undermined by the demonstration of morality in non human animals.
    Of course, if you don’t accept logical reasoning, you can believe anything you want.
    Some relevant books:

    • The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates – Frans de Waal
    • PARANORMALITY Why We See What Isn’t There – Richard Wiseman
    • Now You See It – Cathy Davidson
    • I Am A Strange Loop – Douglas Hofstadter
    • The Moral Landscape – Sam Harris
  248. Hi Chip,

    I don’t understand the question.

    … when it comes to the existence of god, what evidence, if found, …

    Whoa!

    Much too fast.

    What do you mean by “god”?

    Peace.

  249. Almost every point about God raised in these often impressively argued columns refers to the kind of anthropomorphically envisioned entity which subsumes religions. By this token, I feel we waste a lot of time. Most of the writers here can agree we don’t believe in a personality who inhabits the ether and expects us to follow rules He’s (see what I mean?) laid down. Using the word God keeps trapping us in this history biased type of discussion. We could talk more clearly if we substituted Nature or Existence or some other word when we want to talk about First Causes-as it is, I believe much potentially useful discussion is derailed at the outset by conscious or unconscious flogging of dead horses. And many of the striking fulminations of our representative Four Horsemen (Dawkins et al.) could be, dare I say it?, a touch less brutally fact rooted if metaphysics and religion didn’t have to be seen as wearing the same hats.

  250. Like others have noted above, one needs a workable hypothesis before weighing the evidence.

  251. We ought to distinguish between religion which is rules, rituals, alleged (mostly) history and often structurally similar to fairy stories and fantasy (even, PACE believers, if true) and God, a word also with historical and literary accretions, but used usually to signify First Causes. Religion doesn’t take much effort to ridicule but God, if you strip away the Old Testament and other anthropomorphic personality characteristics is not so ludicrous an idea if one uses the word to mean how Existence came to exist. After all, one has to be dull of soul not to think there’s a mystery and not to want to speculate about it. Science’s tools, which, however theoretical, are essentially those of measurement, will surely never answer be able to address this and a belief in some vague Deity has the merit, surely, of at least considering the question. I happen to like Darwin better than Adam and Eve and quantum physics better than “Let there be light”. But that’s because they’re “How?” which Science does well. Unfortunately, Science, in these columns certainly, thinks it has “God” on the run which is only really useful if it can offer an alternative. Otherwise, I submit, it should stick to discrediting the shibboleths and fantasies of organised religion and the (usually paternal) personality traits of the different Gods but respect the aspiration, however inchoate, which lies at the heart of the use of the word “God”. At least until Science can do better.

  252. In reply to #283 by jburnforti:

    Hi J,

    We ought to distinguish between religion … and God … used usually to signify First Causes.

    Did I understand you correctly, your god is a first cause?

    Science’s tools … are essentially those of measurement …

    Science’s main tool is observation. Measurement is used only to assist scientists in confirming observations.

    [Science] will surely never answer be able to address this [an imagined first cause?] and a belief in some vague Deity has the merit, surely, of at least considering the question.

    I fail to see any merit in considering real something for which there is no evidence. Given that a deity is also spectacularly improbable, it actually sounds like a colossal waste of time.

    Science, in these columns certainly, thinks it has “God” on the run which is only really useful if it can offer an alternative.

    Why do we need an alternative to an imagined first cause deity? An imagined solution is an oxymoron – it explains nothing, it gives us nothing. The people who visit this site regularly are, generally speaking, perfectly happy with no alternative – we live with the mystery.

    I submit, [RDFRS and Posters] should stick to discrediting the shibboleths and fantasies of organised religion and the (usually paternal) personality traits of the different Gods …

    RDFRS, and it’s community, discredit the fantasies of organised religions because they are used by those religions in politics. Why is it a bad idea to attack fantasies that are foolish or dangerous?

    … respect the aspiration, however inchoate, which lies at the heart of the use of the word God.

    Why? If something isn’t true, don’t we have a responsibility to point out, through fraternal obligation and political necessity, where a delusion exists?

    At least until Science can do better.

    I assume you mean better than an imagined solution to a mystery (you asked us to set aside religion, so your clearly not referring to that)?