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Author Topic: Do You Believe In God?  (Read 6692 times)

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Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #225 on: July 10, 2014, 03:43:48 AM »
Demonstrated in publicly available, oft discussed studies is the embarrassing fact that, on both an individual and state-wide level, there is a direct correlation between the presence of religion and the generosity of Americans. I didn't want to bring this up, because the statistics in these studies are subject to some gross misrepresentation... especially on the side that's being made to look bad.

Interesting correlation. I wonder though, what the cause might be. Along with religions in general come traditions and teachings about how one should live and act, so I would be more inclined to think that said charity would likely be due to a religion that teaches its members to be charitable and helpful than to some supernatural intervention.  Such lessons in morality could be taught without the inclusion of a belief in a god or deity.

Regarding Virgil's earlier post about AA ( and hinging on the above post ): 

I'm quite familiar with the program and know several atheists who got sober though the program without succumbing to a belief in a god. While their main texts do push a belief in a god or deity of the member's choosing, it is technically not a requirement. I had one good friend who chose to use his group's coffee pot as his "higher power", and another who chose to use his cat, "Kitty". Apparently, she was a terrific listener and never seemed to feel the need to drown him verbal feedback.  Both of these folks managed to stay clean for 10 or more years. They actually did considerably better than the other 99% of the members who all chose some god or deity.

AA was originally intended for people who were "beyond hopeless." I'm talking old, pickled drunks who had been in and out of psych wards, hospitals and religions and still could not control their drinking. The program which was derived from religious groups ( such as the Oxford group) and thus inherited their belief in a god introduces a wide number of changes into the member's life which hopefully leads to a metanoia or major change in their thinking and thus behaviour. My point in bringing this up is to point out that people can change for the better without a religion or a belief in a god. Morality, "virtue" and human values certainly can be taught or acquired through practice. Divine intervention or "supernatural grace" as some religions would word it, is not required and on its own, is not effective. Prayer is not magic.

HannibalBarca, nicely put.

Regarding knowing things:
We can't have absolute, objective knowledge since we see things subjectively. We can however, know things with a reasonable and measurable amount of certainty.



edit: minor spelling/grammar corrections
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 03:57:22 AM by TaintedAndDelish »

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #226 on: July 10, 2014, 03:49:26 AM »
Are you familiar with the theory of knowledge?

According to the theory of knowledge, you can only truly KNOW something that is TRUE. Since nothing can be ABSOLUTELY proven to be true, you cannot know anything.

You can accept that, or you can accept that you can "know" things that are not absolutely proven to be true.

If you accept the first, then you accept that you KNOW nothing. If you accept the second, then you accept that you can know things that can't be proven. Even things that can't be supported by evidence.

Therefore, I can know God exists without being able to prove it or provide evidence to suggest such a thing.

So the fact I can't prove I'm not a brain hooked up to a computer simulation means that all knowledge is arbitrary? Yes, we cannot prove anything with 100% certainty, and that's exactly why we don't operate on certainty. It doesn't render all knowledge as arbitrary, quite the opposite. Not being able to know things with 100% certainly means that 'knowledge' must be acquired and accepted through good methodology in order to be useful.

The lack of certainty doesn't remove the need to evaluate our beliefs, it increases it.

Regarding knowing things:
We can't have absolute, objective knowledge since we see things subjectively. We can however, know things with a reasonable and measurable amount of certainty.

This. Absolute certainty is not a thing we can or try to get. Truth comes in levels, not an on/off switch.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 03:50:44 AM by Sabby »

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #227 on: July 10, 2014, 03:57:41 AM »
So the fact I can't prove I'm not a brain hooked up to a computer simulation means that all knowledge is arbitrary?

Yup. (I hate to leave it at that, but... yes.)

Yes, we cannot prove anything with 100% certainty, and that's exactly why we don't operate on certainty.

So why is it that only MY statement that God exists invalid? (It's impossible to prove with 100% certainty just like everything else.)

It doesn't render all knowledge as arbitrary, quite the opposite. Not being able to know things with 100% certainly means that 'knowledge' must be acquired and accepted through good methodology.

Again, theory of knowledge. Theory of knowledge states that knowledge CAN be acquired through revelation, whether divine or otherwise. I have HAD this revelation. I have FELT the Lord in my life.

You can either accept that or not.

This. Absolute certainty is not a thing we can or try to get. Truth comes in levels, not an on/off switch.

Incorrect. Truth is a binary system. Something is either true, or it is not. If any part of a statement is false, then the whole statement is false. If you want to make the statement true, then the statement must be revised until it is true. Cut out the parts that are blatantly untrue, and you come out with a statement that is PROBABLY true. But you can't prove it's actually true.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #228 on: July 10, 2014, 04:07:18 AM »
Guys, hate to do this, but I'm tired, and I need to get to bed if I'm gonna stand a chance of getting to work tomorrow. I'll chat with y'all later.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #229 on: July 10, 2014, 04:08:56 AM »
Things are either true or untrue, yes, but once again, that doesn't mean accepting things as true is as arbitrary. You keep asserting that lack of certainty means all knowledge is arbitrary, and this is not the case. How do you determine that jumping off a building will likely kill you? It isn't by revelation, it's applied understanding of the reality you perceive. This is how you come to a conclusion that is more likely to be true, and therefore useful to you. What you're suggesting is that the only way I can 'know' jumping off a building will kill me is if it is revealed to me.

How do you know the revelation you received is accurate? We agree that certainty is not a thing we use, so how are you so certain that real binary knowledge was imparted to you? Don't you think that if you were a brain in a computer that the programmer could construct such a scenario? You can't invoke solipsism and then claim to know things.

Edit: sleep well, hope to continue this later.

Offline Dice

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #230 on: July 10, 2014, 04:09:50 AM »
Incorrect. Truth is a binary system. Something is either true, or it is not. If any part of a statement is false, then the whole statement is false. If you want to make the statement true, then the statement must be revised until it is true. Cut out the parts that are blatantly untrue, and you come out with a statement that is PROBABLY true. But you can't prove it's actually true.
But the truth is what you make of it. 1+1= 2. This is the truth. But 1+1=3 is also true if you change the way you look at it. Because my wife and I are one and one, but together we can make another.

The truth is only what is believed to be the truth. But you can twist that, make what you will of it and prove any point you want with whatever facts you care to muster. Facts themselves do not lie, but the truth is abritory. See I can tell you that the simplest way to stop the USA killing itself is to hand down more resistive gun laws, back that up with facts and this will be the truth. (As I see it) Then you hand those same facts to the NRA and they will say that the best way to stop violence is to just arm everyone. (The truth as they see it) The facts never change, but dependent on whom you ask and the goalposts move.

So in truth, no one can prove what is true, only prove what is fact. Because the truth is what we make of it, the facts, no matter how much we twist them, are always the same.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #231 on: July 10, 2014, 04:16:09 AM »
So why is it that only MY statement that God exists invalid? (It's impossible to prove with 100% certainty just like everything else.)

While we cannot have purely objective knowledge, we ARE left with the task of rummaging though and trying to separate good knowledge from trash. We're not going to just throw our hands up in the air and say, "Oh, fuck it! If I can't be certain of anything, so I'll just give up."

The question is, how do we separate the good stuff from the trash?

The scientific method is one very good way of doing this. Through it, we can "approach" having correct knowledge.
Compare this to the religious man's faith.  "I'll just assume that man X is correct because everyone says he's right."

Quote
I have FELT the Lord in my life.

It's nice that you felt and believe this, but for some of us, we would prefer to filter such knowledge and experience first and try to test it and see if its good stuff or trash.
From experience, many of us learn that "feelings" can be quite different from reality.

Quote
Incorrect. Truth is a binary system. Something is either true, or it is not. If any part of a statement is false, then the whole statement is false. If you want to make the statement true, then the statement must be revised until it is true. Cut out the parts that are blatantly untrue, and you come out with a statement that is PROBABLY true. But you can't prove it's actually true.

Ok, with this right here, we can discard the bible and bunch of other self contradicting religious books. This right here levels religion in general.  :)

Truth is a beautiful thing and yes, its black and white. Truth cannot be false and vice versa.

On the topic of knowledge:

We have imperfect knowledge however, we do not need perfect knowledge to do incredible things. Think for a moment about the tremendous amount of knowledge and technology that it has taken to create automobiles and air planes. Extensive knowledge in numerous fields such as physics, chemistry was is at the foundation of such things. If we did not have a reasonable amount of accurate information and understanding in these fields, then such vehicles and inventions simply would not work.  These inventions are a testament to the effectiveness of reasonably accurate knowledge and to the methods used to harness this information and knowledge.

Can we say the same thing about prayer?

Has anyone ever made a 1,400 foot tall building magically appear via prayer?

If you were seriously wounded and at risk of bleeding to death, would you settle for a prayer, or would you go to the emergency room?






« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 04:18:27 AM by TaintedAndDelish »

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #232 on: July 10, 2014, 04:19:13 AM »
While we cannot have purely objective knowledge, we ARE left with the task of rummaging though and trying to separate good knowledge from trash. We're not going to just throw our hands up in the air and say, "Oh, fuck it! If I can't be certain of anything, so I'll just give up."

The question is, how do we separate the good stuff from the trash?

The scientific method is one very good way of doing this. Through it, we can "approach" having correct knowledge.
Compare this to the religious man's faith.  "I'll just assume that man X is correct because everyone says he's right."

It's nice that you felt and believe this, but for some of us, we would prefer to filter such knowledge and experience first and try to test it and see if its good stuff or trash.
From experience, many of us learn that "feelings" can be quite different from reality.

Ok, with this right here, we can discard the bible and bunch of other self contradicting religious books. This right here levels religion in general.  :)

Truth is a beautiful thing and yes, its black and white. Truth cannot be false and vice versa.

On the topic of knowledge:

We have imperfect knowledge however, we do not need perfect knowledge to do incredible things. Think for a moment about the tremendous amount of knowledge and technology that it has taken to create automobiles and air planes. Extensive knowledge in numerous fields such as physics, chemistry was is at the foundation of such things. If we did not have a reasonable amount of accurate information and understanding in these fields, then such vehicles and inventions simply would not work.  These inventions are a testament to the effectiveness of reasonably accurate knowledge and to the methods used to harness this information and knowledge.

Can we say the same thing about prayer?

Has anyone ever made a 1,400 foot tall building magically appear via prayer?

If you were seriously wounded and at risk of bleeding to death, would you settle for a prayer, or would you go to the emergency room?

I want to reply to all this. I'll get to it tomorrow. Good night my friends!

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #233 on: July 10, 2014, 04:24:10 AM »
OK buddy, take care o/

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #234 on: July 10, 2014, 05:32:57 AM »
Wow. I missed a lot. Ok, I'm going to hit a couple of the smaller points quickly before getting to the main meat of the argument; effectively, "how does my knowledge of God differ from Science's knowledge." Right. Let's get started.

On the note of the correlation between religiosity and generosity:
Correlation doesn't always equal causation, and I would be tempted to say that that is more down to the traditions of the society and the belief that you should always strive to help...which arguably doesn't come from religion. It comes from the knowledge that by actively helping society, you are in a way helping yourself and the society you live in get along. Without religion, you would still have good people doing good things.

On the note of the AA:
Oh, I know that. I was more using it as an example of an organisation that has a lot of strings attached to it that could, in the end, be very harmful to its participants...and there's also the fact that if you relapse, you're not classed as "completing" the program, and telling an addict that he has no power over it is oftentimes counterproductive to their self esteem and wellbeing, but that's a matter for another day. I was more using it as an example than anything else, haha. It's entirely possible that it helps people recover, but I think that the organisation is dishonest, predatory - it preys on peoples weaknesses to try and foist religion on them - and its methods are inherently harmful in the long run to a lot of people.

On the "Stalin was an Atheist" thing:
True, but as was mentioned, he didn't do anything in the name of Atheism. Atheism isn't a cause, it's simply a lack of belief...he was, quite frankly, a megalomaniac who wanted to be the "ultimate authority" in Russia, and the Cults of Personality are in themselves religion. But you know what? If there was a country that was an "atheist country," and forced its atheism on its citizens, most atheists would be opposed to that, since most atheists believe that the government has no business telling people what to believe and what not to believe when it comes to religion. Everybody has the right to hold their own religion, so long as it doesn't infringe on other peoples rights. Also, Hitler was raised a Roman Catholic. Whilst whether or not he stayed as a Roman Catholic is debatable, but he was at the least religious in some way (he made several mentions of "a higher power" and "Providence" in his speeches and Mein Kampf, and actively worked to "stamp out" atheism. He also blamed the Jews for a lot of things, but that was more a product of the times anti-Semitism than any specific religious views). And you know what? It doesn't bloody matter. Guilt by association is probably the worst way to determine whether somebody is correct or not. There are some situations, of course, when it's relevant but when saying "X also thought this and look at what HE did!" is perhaps the worst argument for or against either side in a religious debate, and when somebody pulls out "Mao/Hitler/Kim Jong Il "was an atheist," you know that they're just grasping at straws. Guess what? Martin Luther was originally Catholic, then Protestant, and with his book "The Jews And Their Lies" and his Anti-Semitic preaching arguably indirectly caused the Holocaust. So....kids in glass houses.

Sabby:
Haha, thank you for the compliment. :P Not sure if I deserve it or not, but it's kind of you to say :-)


Now the biggy.

Knowledge. Ooh boy.

Ok. I think that we need to make a distinction here. Belief is a dichotomy; you either believe or you don't. There's no middle ground, and I assume that everybody here would agree with that. One is either a theist or an atheist, since that only makes a comment on whether you believe or not. Knowledge is also a dichotomy; you either know something or you do not know something. Again, there is no official "middle ground." Honestly, I think people are talking past each other here; what Lost In The Mist is saying is that you either know or you don't, and what I think everybody else is talking about is certainty. There are degrees of certainty that are attained with more and more conclusive evidence, which is the big difference between a scientific theory and a religious conjecture. Gravity, Evolution, Relativity, etc etc all explain all available evidence, are contradicted by none and make testable and - most importantly - falsifiable predictions and claims. So, we can be 99% Certain that every single time we drop a pen, it will fall since objects with mass attract. The general rule of thumb is "the less the mass, the less powerful the attraction." There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, of course (EG, Magnets), but that's because other forces are at play. That last 1% is reserved for any factor that we may not be aware of tampering with gravities workings.

Now. "Knowledge" only comes with a certain amount of certainty. That percentage varies from person to person, but the biggest thing here is that sometimes, science can be wrong, but science then changes its mind and figures out why it was wrong.

[Side note: I think I saw mentioned that in the middle ages, people thought the world was flat. That's actually a common misconception; the Greeks knew the world was a sphere in the 3rd century BCE (though the concept had been around since the 6th), and Eratosthenes actually accurately calculated its size by using the lengths of shadows in two different locations to figure out its curvature; the measurement he used is not exactly known in modern figures, but it is estimated that his measurement was only wrong by a error margin of 5-15%. He was a smart cookie.]

The difference between scientific knowledge and religious knowledge, Mist, is that scientific knowledge is demonstrable and testable. Religious knowledge is not. If you cannot test something, how can you be certain that it exists? Personal experiences have a hundred and one different explanations; there are stories of people waking up with demons in their rooms, being unable to move, from the middle ages....and yet nowadays we know that it is a common phenomenon known as "Sleep Paralysis," which is caused when a sleeper awakens in the middle of their REM cycle and their brain is slow in waking the body up and is still half asleep. Just an example, of course, but you get my point. But if you claim to know that a God exists, the burden of proof is on you. HOW do you know this God exists? Can we test it? Can we demonstrate it? Can we falsify it? If not, how can you actually claim to know, since there's no way of finding out if you're wrong? And why should anybody else believe you if you can't prove what you're claiming? Yes, people can believe incorrect things based on evidence, but that doesn't give people licence to just "Make Shit Up." You're only justified in believing something when you have evidence, and it isn't - as I think you're suggesting - up to other people to prove you wrong. Tell you what.

I know that there's a teapot orbiting Jupiter. Nobodies ever seen it because it's invisible, and doesn't want us to be able to prove it, but I know because I've felt it in my life. By your logic, I wouldn't have to prove that. You'd have to disprove it, but it is by its very nature unfalsifiable. You can claim to know something, but that doesn't change the fact that without evidence, nobody has to take you seriously. Do you believe me when I say that there's a celestial teapot orbiting Jupiter? No? Well, why not? You believe that there's a deity out there somewhere who meddles in peoples lives, and you're expecting us to just take your word for it, so why is my word any different?

There's a quote that I think is applicable here:

"That which can be presented without evidence can be discarded without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens.

This simultaneously discards the God conjecture and solipsism, since there's no way to prove it but there's no way to disprove it, so until a way to test it comes about, there's no point worrying about it. You are right in that there is no way to test anything 100%, but there are still percentages. We can test and demonstrate gravity and evolution and relativity to 99.99% recurring, but we can't test God AT ALL. God is still on 0.01%, and that percentage will only rise as new evidence comes up.

To answer your question of why your statement is considered invalid: We can test evolution. We can test gravity. We CANNOT test God other than his supposed influences on reality (all of such tests having turned up negative, BTW), so saying that God definitely or at least probably exists requires evidence and justification on your part, which you have not offered. You can claim that you've felt God in your life, and that may be enough for YOU, but A) you could be wrong, and all we know of reality right now suggests that the likelihood is that you are, and B) we have no way of determining if you are telling the truth, if there's another explanation or if the cause of that experience was in fact a deity. You have NO evidence. And whilst your personal experience may be enough for you, personal experience - as unverifiable and untestable as it is - is not sufficient evidence for everybody else because there are 1001 different alternatives to the one you are proposing, and there's almost no way of figuring out for certain which one it is. So to answer your question: There are degrees of certainty and standards of evidence, and you claiming that you had a personal experience isn't even a blip on the graph unless you can prove that A) you had it and B) that it came from the deity you are claiming it came from....which, and I'm taking a wild stab in the dark here, I'm guessing you can't.

Your entire position here is based on a fallacy, I'm sorry to say. You claimed in your first post last page that "faith" is the same as "knowledge." It isn't. Knowledge is believing something based on evidence. Faith - as used in religious context, so please don't try to play word games with the different meanings of "faith" - means "belief without evidence." You cannot have faith with evidence, since evidence removes the need for faith. You had a personal experience and are now believing on faith that this experiences cause was a deity of some kind. Now you have to prove it. I know I'm harping on about this, but if you want to convince others "your word" that you had a personal experience therefore God requires more justification than just your word if we're going to believe you. Going back to my teapot example....is my word enough for you? No. Of course it isn't. So why is your certainty any different from mine? Why should I accept your word, if you aren't willing to accept mine?

If you believe something and want others to believe you that this thing is real, you better have proof other than "I felt it." That's like me saying "I know it because I feel it in my balls," or "I have a gut feeling." It's meaningless, because it's unfalsifiable and has been presented without evidence. If you went around believing everything without evidence, you would believe every idiotic and conflicting claim you came across. So how do you figure out which ones are justifiably believable and which aren't? By examining the available evidence and deciding whether or not it's probable - given the evidence available - whether it's true or not. Yeah, you could be wrong. But at least your conclusion was justified based on the information you were provided. Saying "Well, we can't know anything for sure" doesn't mean that all claims are equal. Knowledge and truth may be binary, but certainty is a tiered system, and there are things you are less certain of than others. And how do you gain certainty? Evidence and investigation. THAT is why your "knowledge" of God is not equal to our "knowledge" of gravity or evolution. We can test and demonstrate our knowledge and gain certainty, and show those results to other people. More, they can go off and do their own tests using a similar methodology and come up with the same conclusions. We cannot test your experience, and we cannot even verify that it actually happened. So how would the two claims be equal? In the court of existence, I find your deity not guilty of existing based on insufficient evidence to convict. I am NOT saying he doesn't exist...just that the evidence provided to me so far is inconclusive. You may appeal, but you must have better evidence than "I feel it in my heart" since that is inherently untestable and therefore meaningless when used to try and convince others of the validity of your belief. I am NOT saying your experience is meaningless full stop. Just that when you are trying to convince others that your position is correct, it means nothing because for all we know, you could be lying through your teeth and there is no way of verifying that you aren't.

Yes, you may claim to "know" a God exists, but HOW do you know? And how can we find out whether you are right or not? Humans are, after all, fallible. You could be wrong about your personal experience, and you could be wrong about a deity existing. How do we go about finding out? The only justifiable time to believe something is when you have evidence. A claim that is supported by evidence is not equal to one without evidence, especially when you're making a claim as extraordinary as an omnipotent, omniscient deity who cares about my personal sexual life and wants me to bow down and worship him or else I'll burn forever in the fires of hell (this bit is hyperbole; I'm not saying that that's what you believe). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and you seem to be trying to say that you don't need to present any evidence because you feel it in your heart. Well, that's not good enough to convince anybody else.

So: Short version.

Belief is a dichotomy - you either believe or you don't.
Knowledge is a binary position - you either know or you don't.
Certainty is a ratchet system - you have degrees of certainty, which at some point turns into knowledge (for example, 80% is knowing and 79.9% is still not knowing for some people on some positions. It depends on the person.)
If you claim to know something, you better be ready to justify that "knowledge" with evidence, or people will not believe you.
Knowledge can be claimed, but isn't always justified. Believing something and claiming to "know" that it's true is unjustified because you have no way of knowing, or demonstrating it.

In fact, I would ask how you're so certain that you know that God exists, when you have no way of testing, demonstrating or falsifying that belief, when you could simply be wrong? A belief in God is not equal to people believing the Theory of Evolution, since the latter has mountains of evidence and the formers evidence is dubious, circumstantial and untestable at best.

So I think the real question isn't "DO you know?" It's "HOW do you know, and can we test it?"

Am I making any sense here?
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 06:16:27 AM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline consortium11

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #235 on: July 10, 2014, 05:51:18 AM »
On the theory of knowledge point;

The general approach to the theory of knowledge/Epistemology for a long time was Justified True Belief theory; S knows P if and only if S believes P, P is true and S is justified in believing P. On the face of it, this is largely uncontroversial.

1) If something is false then it is extremely difficult to say someone "knows" it. It is false that Sabby is a fundamentalist Christian who believes the bible to be the 100% truth. Since it is false it is impossible to say that anyone knows that Sabby is a fundamentalist Christian who believes the bible to be the 100% truth. They may believe it but they do not know it. False "knowledge" is not knowledge.

(On this point it may be worth pointing out the distinction between knowledge in the colloquial sense and a more strict sense that we mean here; talking about knowledge in everyday terms is generally a factive verb while here we are discussing a state)

2) If S does not believe P then it is difficult to say he knows P even if he seemingly does. If LostInTheMist did not believe in God then it is seemingly impossible to say they knew God exists. God may exist and there may be justifications for believing in God but if S doesn't believe it then it is hard to say they know it.

3) S must be justified in believing P. If Consortium11 sticks his hand into a bag of coloured balls with his eyes closed and confidently believes on no particular basis that he will pull out a blue one then if he does pull out a blue one through sheer luck then his belief if true... but is that enough to say he knew he would pull out a blue one? I would suggest not and that it is a matter of blind luck which to me is not enough to be knowledge.

The problem with this theory is twofold, one of which has already been touched on:

1) The "Brain-In-a-Vat" theory (BIV).

This skeptical argument is less about attacking the basis of knowledge then it is about limiting what we can say we know. On the face of it everyone who can feel and see their hands would say they know they have hands; to put it in the above format, one believes they have hands, one is justified in believing they have hands and that belief is true. The BIV argument however goes:

(1)      I don't know that I'm not a BIV.
(2)      If I don't know that I'm not a BIV, then I don't know that I have hands.
    Therefore:
(3)      I don't know that I have hands.

There have been many attempts to get around this problem using a variety of methods none of which strike me as particularly strong. Put simply, under the BIV argument, our sum of knowledge is pretty much reduced to cogito ergo sum (or in truth even less) and nothing beyond that is supported.

2) The Gettier Problem

Edmund Gettier wrote a paper where he noted that something being a JTB still seemingly wasn't enough for one to say they "knew" something. To give a frequently used example:

Henry drives through a rural area in which what appear to be barns are, with the exception of just one, mere barn facades. From the road Henry is driving on, these facades look exactly like real barns. Henry happens to be looking at the one and only real barn in the area and believes that there's a barn over there. Henry's belief is justified, either because Henry's visual experience justifies his belief or because Henry's belief originates in a reliable cognitive process: vision (depending on ones approach to justification). Yet Henry's belief is plausibly viewed as being true merely because of luck; had Henry noticed one of the barn-facades instead, he would also have believed that there's a barn over there. And as above, it is hard to say that S knows P when there it is merely lucky that he is correct.

Much like the BIV problem above, there have been many attempts to solve the Gettier Problem and none of them quite seem to work for me. "JTB+" theories (that is, JTB + an additional condition to get around the Gettier Problem are required for knowledge) generally struggle because that additional condition can generally always be satisfied by something that is lucky and this bring us back to the Gettier Problem. Adding an "anti-luck" element has its own issues; the BIV problem above arises (as we may merely be BIV's and it would be luck that we aren't) and what exactly do we mean by luck (if I win an interview with an eminent scientist in a raffle which corrects many incorrect beliefs I had it is only through luck that I now "know" the things I do as I was lucky to win the raffle... but does that destroy the "knowledge" I gained and mean I don't actually know it?).





So, where does that leave us with the theory of knowledge argument?

Sort of everywhere and nowhere actually.

It is very hard to say we know much in the sense held above. The Gettier Problem attacks the very basis of traditional epistemology and how we view knowledge as being formed while the BIV theory limits what we know to very, very few things. But these limitations are so strict that the only reasonable conclusion would seemingly be to throw out everything we "know"... and that is a distinctly ivory tower proposition of limited use to the real, pragmatic world. As TaintedAndDelish points out in below posts we have seen great advances in a great many fields by using "knowledge" (used in the colloquial sense) that may not strictly be knowledge according the criteria above but are still of great pragmatic use. For all the reasons above someone may not be able to say they know that acceleration = change in speed / time taken... but when they're calculating how quickly racing cars got off the line it's still pretty damn useful.

To add to the above, even if there is no real knowledge and we instead simply have beliefs, surely there must still be a hierarchy of them. Let me illustrate with a example:

Boxer A and Boxer B are just about to start their bout against each other. Z believes that Boxer A with win, Y believes that Boxer B will win. Boxer A is an undefeated 35-0 world champion who has easily beaten the best in the world repeatedly. He is fighting fit, uninjured, mentally prepared, highly skilled and experienced with incredible physical attributes. Boxer B is a decrepit old man in failing physical health who has only had two bouts, lost them both and has looked awful doing so.

Now, neither Z not Y can know who wins even in the colloquial sense... the bout hasn't happened yet. But wouldn't we say Z is far more justified in his belief that Boxer A will win because of all the evidence. He may be proven wrong; we have a long history of sporting upsets (even if not quite that dramatic) to illustrate that, but going into the bout isn't his position much stronger than his rival?

Let us take a similar approach with knowledge. Person A "knows" the world is flat. Person B "knows" it isn't. While the knowledge problems above illustrate why B may be mistaken in his so called knowledge, doesn't the weight of evidence in his favour (even if all that evidence may not be strictly known for the same reasons) give him the far stronger position?

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #236 on: July 10, 2014, 06:01:12 AM »
^ I agree with this. I didn't mention the theories of knowledge and their philosophy because I don't know much about them, but reading through that, if I'm understanding it correctly, I agree with Consortium on this point. If the evidence is in your favour, even if you end up being wrong, your position was far more justifiable and reasonable given the information available at the time.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #237 on: July 10, 2014, 06:50:11 AM »
When it comes to the BIV scenario, I refer to The Three Basal Assumptions.

1) Reality exists.
2) We can learn something about it.
3) Models with predictive capabilities are better then models without.

These are three things we must assume in the face of Solipsism if we are to make any observations of the world. Without a basis like this, we're just stuck going "How do ya know?" on loop. Sure, I may be a BIV at the end of the day, but by assuming these three things, I am still able to make useful observations and interactions with my perceived reality. Whether or not it's real is irrelevant.

Offline consortium11

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #238 on: July 10, 2014, 06:55:11 AM »
^ I agree with this. I didn't mention the theories of knowledge and their philosophy because I don't know much about them, but reading through that, if I'm understanding it correctly, I agree with Consortium on this point. If the evidence is in your favour, even if you end up being wrong, your position was far more justifiable and reasonable given the information available at the time.

Pretty much; the end result of most theory of knowledge/epistemology positions these days is that we don't know anything in the strict sense for the reasons outlined above; while there are several attempts to get around the BIV and Gettier problems most of them tend to fail and there's a strong school of thought that argues that knowledge itself is basically not analysable anyway.

But where does that leave us in the real world? Using the above method, we don't know that smoking is bad for your health... but would anyone really argue it isn't considering all the evidence we have? We may not know how combustion works... but we're still going to build car engines using that principle.

It strikes me that using the theory of knowledge argument isn't really a strong approach to take here; in essence it's a semantic argument about the concept of "know"... and we've already had a discussion about knowing whether God exists vs not believing God exists in the context of atheist and/or agnostic




Quick correction on your earlier post however;

Gravity, Evolution, Relativity, etc etc all explain all available evidence, are contradicted by none and make testable and - most importantly - falsifiable predictions and claims.

As previously mentioned, this doesn't apply to the mainstream theories of gravity and/or relativity; both of them don't explain all available evidence and both are contradicted by that evidence. Hence the existence of Dark Matter which was invented to "fill in the gap" where those theories don't work. There is no evidence for Dark Matter outside of the fact that the mainstream theories of gravity/relativity don't hold up and something had to be done to explain away why the theory doesn't match reality. Yet mainstream gravity/relativity theory remains, well, mainstream despite there being alternative theories that don't require the invention of Dark Matter... something that cannot be independently seen, detected, tested, qualified, interacted with or verified in any way.

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #239 on: July 10, 2014, 07:00:36 AM »
Ah, fair enough. Well, my point still stands regardless of that correction, since the theories still work (albeit with a bit of alteration) and has more justification the God hypothesis in my eyes, haha. I don't necessarily agree with Dark Matter simply because it can't be verified, but I can't make any conclusions on whether it exists or not since I'm not a physicist so don't understand a lot of the nitty-gritty, haha. Regardless, I think my overall point still stands :P

Offline ofDelusions

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #240 on: July 10, 2014, 07:30:37 AM »

As previously mentioned, this doesn't apply to the mainstream theories of gravity and/or relativity; both of them don't explain all available evidence and both are contradicted by that evidence. Hence the existence of Dark Matter which was invented to "fill in the gap" where those theories don't work. There is no evidence for Dark Matter outside of the fact that the mainstream theories of gravity/relativity don't hold up and something had to be done to explain away why the theory doesn't match reality. Yet mainstream gravity/relativity theory remains, well, mainstream despite there being alternative theories that don't require the invention of Dark Matter... something that cannot be independently seen, detected, tested, qualified, interacted with or verified in any way.

Actually there are other evidence for Dark Matter like gravitanional lensing. Also it really neatly explains stuff about early universe. So the Dark Matter currently seems the likeliest explanatation.

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #241 on: July 10, 2014, 07:36:43 AM »
( Staying out of it because I know next to nothing about high-level theoretical physics :P )

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #242 on: July 10, 2014, 12:09:10 PM »
Okay, gonna talk about this before I get to anything else. I skimmed the rest of the thread, and didn't see anyone make the points I'm about to make, but if you did, I apologize for rehashing the old thing.

While we cannot have purely objective knowledge, we ARE left with the task of rummaging though and trying to separate good knowledge from trash. We're not going to just throw our hands up in the air and say, "Oh, fuck it! If I can't be certain of anything, so I'll just give up."

The question is, how do we separate the good stuff from the trash?

The scientific method is one very good way of doing this. Through it, we can "approach" having correct knowledge.
Compare this to the religious man's faith.  "I'll just assume that man X is correct because everyone says he's right."

I'm going to use the word "ignorant" more than once in the coming stuff. I hope you won't assume that I am saying that you are generally ignorant, because that is not what I'm trying to say, though you seem to be ignorant about theology.

My faith is not: "I'll just assume that Man X is correct because everyone says he's right." Nor is most faith, and to reduce it to that is to cheapen the views that thousands of millions of people hold. It comes close to outright contempt, but I have faced contempt for my beliefs before, and I have faced ignorance about my beliefs before, and I'm not offended.

My faith is much more personal and profound than just "I think this is true because my pastor and my parents say so." I went through a crisis of faith during my teenage years. I took the same stance a number of people are currently taking. "You can't prove God exists through scientific testing! It doesn't make any sense!" I cried.

I'm not entirely sure where and when I was able to accept that science alone cannot provide a basis for faith-based beliefs and religion. The two are separate entities. I can no more prove or disprove the existence of God through science than I can prove or disprove evolution through religion. (More on this below.)

It's nice that you felt and believe this, but for some of us, we would prefer to filter such knowledge and experience first and try to test it and see if its good stuff or trash.
From experience, many of us learn that "feelings" can be quite different from reality.

I didn't think you'd believe me, but I kinda hoped that my personal feelings and beliefs would not be dismissed as "trash".

Ok, with this right here, we can discard the bible and bunch of other self contradicting religious books. This right here levels religion in general.  :)

Truth is a beautiful thing and yes, its black and white. Truth cannot be false and vice versa.

Thank you for conceding the minor point. But let's talk about religious books for a moment. Just a moment, and bear with me here. I am a Christian. My holy book is the Bible. Is everything in the Bible literally true? No. In fact a large amount of it is not true. The whole creation story is poetry. Beautiful poetry, sure, but poetry. Now, I can go through book after book of the bible, chapter by chapter, and tell you what is true and what is not, but we can skip that for now, and leave that particular theological discussion for later. All I'm saying is that being a Christian doesn't mean that you have to accept the whole of the Bible as the literal truth.

A number of people who are ignorant of certain theological concepts are unaware that there are more branches of Christianity than just "Catholic" and "Protestant". (There's also Orthodox, which is somewhat separate from Catholicism.) Hell, some people didn't know there were more than two primary branches. There are branches of Christianity that believe in the literal truth of the Bible. But I am not one of those people. And I even more strongly oppose those who use the Bible to back up their ignorance and fear.

On the topic of knowledge:

We have imperfect knowledge however, we do not need perfect knowledge to do incredible things. Think for a moment about the tremendous amount of knowledge and technology that it has taken to create automobiles and air planes. Extensive knowledge in numerous fields such as physics, chemistry was is at the foundation of such things. If we did not have a reasonable amount of accurate information and understanding in these fields, then such vehicles and inventions simply would not work.  These inventions are a testament to the effectiveness of reasonably accurate knowledge and to the methods used to harness this information and knowledge.

I never said we needed perfect knowledge to do incredible things. I'm also not going to say that "if God had intended us to fly, he would have given us wings." I hold more to the idea that if God had intended us NOT to fly, he wouldn't have given us brains.

Note: I'm not saying God created us.... It's a much more complicated issue than that, and belief in God and belief in the creation myth are ENTIRELY different things. One can believe in God without believing the creation myth. As I've mentioned above.

Can we say the same thing about prayer?

You're seriously going to compare prayer to the use and application of knowledge?

Has anyone ever made a 1,400 foot tall building magically appear via prayer?

If you were seriously wounded and at risk of bleeding to death, would you settle for a prayer, or would you go to the emergency room?

Okay, this is where we have a fundamental ignorance of the question at hand.

I'd go to the emergency room. But I'd also want a prayer or two. If I HAD to choose, I'd take the emergency room without a prayer.

Science and faith are not an "either/or" proposition. I don't have to CHOOSE between science and faith. They are two entirely separate arenas. There is no area of overlap between the two. Science can neither prove nor disprove the tenets of my faith. And my faith can neither prove nor disprove science.

But even BEYOND that. Being a man of faith does not mean setting aside reason. As I say, if God had meant us to be blind, obedient robots, he wouldn't have given us brains. Science is a wonderful thing. Science has saved my life more than once, and I've seen it save literally hundreds (maybe thousands; it doesn't take long to lose count) of other people's lives. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I was extremely grateful for the anesthetic and the various other drugs, including (especially!) the vicodin.

But when I'm injured or sick, while the power of science heals me, the power of my faith strengthens me. And I do believe that prayer works. Not as a cure, but as a supplement. Think of it like a vitamin. You don't HAVE to take a vitamin to survive, but if you take a vitamin with your meal, you're healthier. It's kinda like that. I don't HAVE to be prayed for intercessorially (not a word according to spell check), but if I am, I believe that it helps.

For reference, there are scientific studies going both ways. Some that say prayer helps (in conjunction with medical treatment). Others that say prayer doesn't help. All these studies have been scientifically rigorous, and they say different things. That's one of the things I love about science.

But let's not ignore the placebo effect. Even if prayer doesn't work, the fact that I BELIEVE it works will often produce a marked improvement that you wouldn't have seen otherwise. Even if I knew it was placebo (which I do not believe it is), I'd still improve.

Look, my point is.... Not all Christians are crazy faith-healer dudes who don't vaccinate their kids and will prayer for a cure to appendecitis or other treatable diseases. There are such people, and I find their beliefs horrifying and destructive.

But please... don't call my beliefs "trash" just because you're ignorant about what they are.

Thank you.

(I'll get to the rest of these fascinating responses this evening when I can spend all my time reading and responding. As is, I have to get to other things now.)

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #243 on: July 10, 2014, 12:20:33 PM »
I have a few things to say about that reply, but I'll wait until my post has been responded to before writing out a response so as to save time/avoid making your reading load bigger. I prefer to answer everything in one go anyway.

Offline LostInTheMistTopic starter

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #244 on: July 10, 2014, 12:32:13 PM »
I have a few things to say about that reply, but I'll wait until my post has been responded to before writing out a response so as to save time/avoid making your reading load bigger. I prefer to answer everything in one go anyway.

Your post is excellent (now that I've read the whole thing) and I have a lot to say about it. :) Unfortunately, it's likely to be close to 12 hours before I can get up a response, because it requires a LOT of writing. :)

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #245 on: July 10, 2014, 12:41:32 PM »
Eh, don't worry about it. I can wait. Which is good, since I'll have to. :P

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #246 on: July 11, 2014, 12:34:47 AM »
I didn't think you'd believe me, but I kinda hoped that my personal feelings and beliefs would not be dismissed as "trash".

I don't think Tainted meant it in that way. He's not calling your personal feelings trash, he's pointing out that we go through a process of evaluation when deciding which beliefs we keep and which we discard. Personal feelings are, sorry to be blunt, useless when it comes to demonstrating what is factual. So, we discard that when trying to prove what is factual. "Oh, this doesn't help me here, so I'll throw it in the trash" It doesn't mean that the entire thought is trash, just that it is completely useless for what your doing.

Feelings and beliefs are important, but they just don't help you in certain things. Figuring out what is more likely to be true is one of them.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 12:39:31 AM by Sabby »

Offline mj2002

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #247 on: July 11, 2014, 12:52:21 AM »
*Shakes head* Man, you really don't understand, do you?

Just because something can't be proven doesn't mean it isn't true.

I could write pages on how simplistic the view that claims that can't be supported by evidence must be false is
Ive never taken this position. Please read more carefully.  The furthest I would go is this; If a claim cant be proven to be true, there is no reason to assume it is true. This goes in line with assuming truth in claims that can be proven with the best explanation available to us with the information we have.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #248 on: July 11, 2014, 04:31:23 AM »
Without quoting LostInTheMist's entire post, I'd like to say a few things:

1. I apologize for my tone. While I didn't mean to insult you personally in calling some beliefs, "trash", I do admit that I have an attitude towards religion and such unsupported beliefs. It can be difficult at times to not express frustration and some degree of contempt for the organizations that pass on these beliefs to their members.

2. I agree there are many different varieties of Christians and Christian groups - some are similar enough to get along with each other, and some are different enough that they should be kept very far apart. I've had my experiences with some groups who were quite sane, some who were "charismatic", some who were contemplatives, and others who were more of your bible banging fundamentalist type. 

Feelings and beliefs are important, but they just don't help you in certain things. Figuring out what is more likely to be true is one of them.

This right here.

If person A convincingly "Feels" that there is a god and his name is Yahweh,
    and person B convincingly "Feels" that there is no god,
    and person C convincingly "Feels" that his god wants him to kill everyone,
    and person D convincingly "Feels" that the end is coming,

    then who is right and who is wrong? and why aren't their feelings correct and in sync with reality?

Feelings and intuitions cannot be trusted as if they were factual.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #249 on: July 11, 2014, 04:38:40 AM »
Exactly. I really dislike the whole "Oh, you can't disregard my feelings" thing. Yes, I can. Feelings, like logic, have a specific usefulness to us, and when you choose to take them into a discussion where they have absolutely no utility, then people are completely justified in saying "No, wait a second, that doesn't work". It's not an attack on someones emotions and convictions, it's a recognition of a square peg and a round hole being present.