Atheism, theism and jelly beans

Discussion in 'Religion' started by James R, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Just a belief. I'm not interested in putting on airs.

    Who said it was everywhere alive? I didn't. Maybe you should reread some of my posts.
    It can exist everywhere while not being alive everywhere, as "alive" usually denotes biological organisms, which are obviously not everywhere.

    Who said anything about "influence"? The mechanism is not influence, it is the humans themselves.

    No, I didn't. How do you propose human activity creates or manifests anything supernaturally?

    I can't help it if you insist on a straw man that, what, it performs miracles.

    Since the concept of God definitely exists, the idea that it contradicts its own natural laws would make the concept, at least, self-contradictory.

    If God created life, how could God have already been alive, in the same sense? Maybe you should start by defining what you mean by life. Something other than biological organisms?

    You have the conscious experience of being alive, but your thumb does not. Your thumb is alive, but there is a difference.
    Again, perhaps you should define what you mean by "alive".

    Again, it affects other things through humans, which do give off radiation.

    You have yet to ask about the logic of traits like omniscience, omnipotence, etc.. And you've yet to suggest any logical inconsistency or contradiction in anything I've already told you. Can't defend what I haven't heard objections to.
    davewhite04 likes this.
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  3. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    I don't think I made a claim, either way. Just like people who believe in scientism cannot say how they believe science will one day answer "gap" questions, I cannot foresee how that same science might one day show us something that more readily alludes to a God. Neither is really a justifiable claim. You cannot justifiably claim that we can test anything moments after the Big Bang, because current science tells us we have no reason to believe that we will ever be able to receive any information prior to the cosmological horizon, light prior to the last scattering, etc..

    Who said God wasn't a matter of philosophy? Many questions beyond science are philosophical (and not supernatural).

    All I know is that the logic of God is testable. But again, like all philosophy, that does not make it compelling.
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Something you're too shy to talk about?
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    1. There is a universe with natural laws and a God.
    2. There is a universe with natural laws and no God.

    You can't see how those two are mutually exclusive?

    I asked you how you can tell the difference between 1 and 2 by observing the universe. But I get the impression you're telling me that you can't tell the difference that way. Is that correct?

    (?) Where have I claimed that you made that claim?

    It sounds like that's a "no" from you to the question I asked you: can you show that your God is necessary to create the universe, or to create the laws of nature, or whatever? But then, in the same post you seem to be saying that you can show it "primarily using logic". I'm interested in examining your logical argument, in that case.

    I agree that the source of he law of nature is an open question. However, using your own method, the very least assumption is nothing, right? It's not the nothing that needs justification. It is the God. I'm interested how you get from the nothing to the God.

    I'm also interested in how you ruled out infinite regress, which I assume you've done since you refer to it as "fallacious".


    If your God isn't testable, then you're telling me there's no test that can be applied to tell the difference between rock-with-God and rock-without-God. This supports my view that you didn't reach your God conclusion through an examination of physical evidence. Good to know.

    Would you be open to discussing the chain of pure logic that led to your current belief in God, then? As I said, I'm interested in how you went from your "very least assumption" of nothing to God. I'd like to follow your reasoning.
  8. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Aside from a God violating the laws of nature, I can't see how anyone could tell the difference. Them being mutually exclusive relies solely on you having some means to tell the difference. Any confidence you may have in telling the difference would seem to indict something you believe about a God, which you don't believe in.

    I'm not sure how else you could tell the difference. If you have any other candidates, please share.

    If you have no alternative explanation to why there's something rather than nothing, there's really no need.

    An infinite regress is just a way to forever avoid explaining something, without any real justification.
    But if you think infinite regresses are valid reasoning, please elaborate.

    Asking who said God was testable does not even imply that it isn't.
    I never said I reached my conclusion through physical evidence. And it seems I've told you this before.

    What is nothing? For starters, how do you identify it in everyday life? Not just some abstraction. How do you know there is nothing in or on somewhere/something without relying on any synonyms such as empty, zero, void, absent, lacking, not something, etc.?
    davewhite04 likes this.
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member


    I think this is needlessly argumentative. I have indeed read your posts.
    You stated you believe it is alive.
    You stated it is everywhere.
    So it is logical to suppose at first blush that is alive, everywhere.

    If you want to equivocate, that's really up to you, not to me.

    Maybe - rather than offering incomplete tidbits, then waiting for someone to try to understand, then accusing them of not reading your posts - you could stop using the phrase "Who said...", and simply ... say.

    I'll pause here. Would you rather I stop asking about your idea?
  10. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Not my problem that you conflate the answers to two different questions.
    Just a little thought on your part, that life simply doesn't exist everywhere, would have sorted it out for you.

    Just trying to break you of all the unwarranted straw men. If you don't like how I post, tough. You have no obligation to respond.

    Why pause? And who implied anyone would rather you stop?

    Sounds like you're just avoiding addressing the rest:
    I'm waiting for any objections, but so far, I've only seen straw men.
    davewhite04 likes this.
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    No. This is your idea, and it's pretty unique. It requires elaboration.

    You said God exists everywhere, including inside me, and is alive and conscious.
    And you're criticizing me for asking how God can be alive and everywhere but not alive everywhere.

    OK. I've been pretty patient.
    You initially offered one-word answers. I've asked questions about how to interpret them - even saying my conclusions must obviously be tentative, since your idea is clearly more nuanced than it appears from your one-word answers. That's an invite to elaborate. Instead, you prefer to accuse me of errors instead of simply elaborating.

    Why pause? And who implied anyone would rather you stop?[/QUOTE]
    If you want to discuss your idea then discuss it in good faith. I'm not going to interrogate you as if you're a hostile, who can deride me every time you don't like my questions.

    No, what it sounds like as that I'm not being the bad guy here, but you're determined to treat me as if I am. Why would I wish to continue that?

    Ah. well, now you've reframed this. You sit and watch while we must object.

    There are no objections and no strawmen for a belief; you need not defend a belief.

    But you have freely submitted it here (a few dozen posts back), as a possible solution to the topic. And that puts the onus on you to explain it, not on anyone else to pick through your one word answers and find objections.

    Since you choose not to accept the onus of explaining, and instead put that onus on others, that is tantamount to a withdrawal of your idea from consideration in this discussion.

    It's a pity. It would have been neat to discuss it. But rather than elaborate, you dodge questions by finding fault.

    Carry on.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  12. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    So I should just start expecting that you will conflate and assume anything and everything I don't explicitly explain to you?
    No thanks, I'm not looking to write a book here. If you're not satisfied asking questions, even dumb ones (that assume life is everywhere), that's on you.

    And if you hadn't avoided the rest of that post, I explained how your thumb is not conscious, but it's still alive. Big difference. For like the third time, define your terms.
    And in a previous post, I already told you "Not inside you, you." Again, reread my posts.

    If you ask twenty questions, I'm not going to elaborate much. Again, not looking to write a book here. Now if you want to ask one, sort out your understanding of the answer, and then move on to your next question, so be it. I can't help it if those answers didn't provide the gotcha moment you may have been hoping for. Again, if you don't like how I post, you're under zero obligation to reply.

    Since I have no idea what you're thinking, I have no idea what to elaborate on until you tell me. If you make a faulty assumption, maybe you should just accept that and move on, asking more questions. Whinging about it gets you no where.

    I don't care, one way or the other, if I discuss my beliefs. I'm not proselytizing here, and I don't feel any need for the validating understanding/attention of others. If you're curious, I'll answer questions. Period.

    I don't know, genuine curiosity and a thicker skin to strangers online?

    "Solution to the topic"? I never presented it as refuting atheism or solving anything at all. So where you imagine this onus to exist is anyone's guess.
    Hey, tell yourself whatever you need to to justify begging off. No skin off my nose.
    davewhite04 likes this.
  13. Vociferous Valued Senior Member


    You initially engaged me in this thread by equivocating over what constitutes a "discussion", and you didn't let it go until I actually had to quote the definition of "discuss" for you. You even tried to pretend like you didn't literally ask about the "nature" of God. That's an odd way to enter what you claim is a good faith discussion. Compare that to James R's "point taken", about the need to discuss theism if trying to discuss atheism. That seems like a good faith response, and in contrast, yours set the tone of our interaction.

    Then you equivocated over the definition of "supernatural", without ever providing a preferred one yourself or even being able to tell me how you would tell the difference. Then you ask if I consider the wind or dark matter supernatural, after I already told you I did not consider God supernatural, and claimed I was evasive because I took your argument, about shaking God's hand, on good faith. You conflated asking about a things "nature" and asking if it was real, only to then somehow conflate that with your beliefs. I've had to repeatedly quote my own posts and repeat myself where you have, I guess, ignored my answers.

    So apparently your good faith discussion is a double standard that does not apply to you. Indicating that your whinging is just an excuse to beg off.

  14. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

    Shy? I guess I have been shy, never was when I was younger, now I'm older I'm not shy. Cured.
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Doesn't that make God an unnecessary hypothesis? What would Mr Occam have to say?

    If your answer to why there is something rather than nothing is God, then doesn't that just bump the question back one more level? Now we need to ask why there is God rather than nothing.

    Your God explanation avoids infinite regress, certainly. The buck stops with your God. But why stop there? Isn't that an ad hoc solution with no justification?

    I'm thinking here of the usual arguments that go along the lines of: everything must have a cause, therefore the universe must have a cause, therefore God. I have two problems with that argument. The first problem is that God seems like an arbitrary exception to the rule that everything must have a cause. What caused God? Why does God get to be an uncaused cause? The second problem is that the argument makes an unjustified leap from "the universe must have a cause" to the cause being a supreme being, usually with all kinds of assumed baggage (e.g. the God is a person, the God is conscious, the God planned the universe etc. etc.). It seems to me that other possible causes for the universe are ignored in this line of reasoning (e.g. the potential existence of a natural multiverse).

    Also, when it comes to infinite regress, is your God finite or eternal? If your God is eternal, isn't that a form of infinite regress in itself? If your God has always existed, how is saying that more justified that saying, for example, that a multiverse has always existed?

    All this God stuff sounds like special pleading to me.

    If you recall, it wasn't me who introduced the concept of "nothing" into this conversation. It was you. You assumed you needed an explanation for why there is something rather than this "nothing" you mentioned. If you're now saying that you're not sure what "nothing" is, then why do you think you need a God to explain it?
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    One other thought:

    If you believe that God is really indistinguishable from nature and the universe, then why attach the "God" label to it at all? For all you know, your "God" could be a synonym for the multiverse, or perhaps just the universe. The word "God", once introduced, immediately suggests a whole lot of baggage from religious traditions, and you say you don't believe all that stuff. So why call it God?
  17. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Parsimony dictates the fewest assumptions that, critically, explain the most. You can make a single assumption that doesn't explain anything, but that doesn't make it parsimonious. The single assumption of God explains why there is something rather than nothing, for which there is no other explanation. Preferring to throw your hands up at such questions does not undermine the parsimony, no matter how incredulous you may find it.

    It would, if God were a something. But I would doubt you could find any religion that describes God as a thing. Now you could get into the weeds that "being" is defined as existence, but "a existence" or existence itself? IOW, if all existence is God itself (pantheism), the question hasn't been bumped back at all. It's still the exact same question.

    I generally agree that those kinds of argument are special pleading, ad hoc, etc.. I could get into better versions of the cosmological argument, but that would be a detour at this point.

    An eternal God would have no apparent beginning, while our universe shows all evidence of having a beginning. And we have zero reason to think any other/previous physical universe would not have a beginning (quite aside from our lack of evidence for a multiverse in the first place). But my belief doesn't rely on that either.

    These are questions for you to answer in order to "follow [my] reasoning":
    I know my answers, but unless you can reason it out for yourself, you're not likely to accept any further steps of the reasoning. It's an exercise in "know thyself". And well, why waste both our time if you're either unwilling or unable to do so?
  18. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Because God is not just the physical universe. God is also the consistency of the laws that govern the physical universe, our subjective experience and free will, and other stuff that cannot be categorized in a materialist view. Pantheism alone typically only correlates God with the physical universe, not really accounting for abstractions of thought, experience, and natural laws.
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Let me start with this, up front:
    The fact that I'm having this discussion with you at all ought to suggest to you that I'm interested in your position. There's no need for you to get defensive about it. It isn't that I'm unwilling to consider your line of reasoning. To me, it seems more like a case of you being unwilling to share it with me in more detail. Ability is a different question. It is conceivable that you're much smarter than I am, so that I won't be able to understand your reasoning. But we can't really know that unless you try to explain it to me.

    You also seem to be under the impression that I have not "reasoned it out for myself". For my own part, I would say that I have spent quite some time thinking and reasoning about these matters. As a result, I have come to some conclusions of my own. That's not to say that I couldn't be wrong or that I have nothing else to learn.

    If you regard your own reasons as too personal to discuss, or something like that, I understand. We don't have to have the discussion if you'd rather not. The same goes if you don't want to put in any more effort to explaining your position. You can certainly leave me to continue to "reason it out by myself" without your input, if that's what you prefer.

    Moving on...

    I don't regard the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient being as a parsimonious explanation for the existence of our universe. It seems to me that a God is a very complicated thing, not a simple thing. Introducing God raises more questions than answers.

    You say there's no other explanation, but is that true? It sounds to me like you just have a preference for one explanation over others.

    The other issue I have with this is: why assume anything? Why assume there is a God, if there's no good reason to do so? Why not just be content to say that we don't currently know why there is something rather than nothing. Maybe we'll find the answer in the future. To me, it sounds like you're pretending you know the answer already, when you don't really know at all.

    Again, the problem I have with that is that I think it makes "God" just a synonym for "everything" or for "existence" or whatever. Why use the word "God", when we already have the words "everything" and "existence"? What value does God add to this worldview?

    Okay. Good.

    Given my current knowledge, all I can say is that I am unconvinced by any of the versions of the cosmological argument that I'm aware of (and I'm aware of a few). Do any of them convince you?

    I agree that our universe had a beginning, with the caveat that we don't really understand how time works in very earliest stages of the big bang. You say that we have zero reason to think that a multiverse wouldn't have a beginning. I say we have no reason to think that it would.

    As for lack of evidence, we agree that my lack of evidence for a multiverse is on a par with your lack of evidence for God, don't we? So, we can't decide between those two hypotheses on the basis of (currently available) evidence.

    A multiverse obviously wouldn't be, either.

    I'm not sure how familiar you are with ideas about multiverses, so forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know. Not all multiverse ideas require consistency in the laws of physics. Some multiverse ideas posit the idea of "bubble universes", with each causally-separate universe containing its own set of physical laws (or at least its own group of "settings" for such laws, in the form of fundamental constants such as the strengths of fundamental forces in the universe). Using such ideas, our universe could just be one of an uncountable number of possible worlds.

    As for subjective experience, I have no reason to think that our subjective experience is grounded in anything other than physical reality.

    As for free will, my views on that topic are on the record elsewhere on sciforums, at length. To summarise briefly: I don't think that free will requires the presence or intervention of a deity. Tentatively, I don't even think it is incompatible with determinism. And I disagree with your position that free will cannot be explained from a materialist perspective.

    Do you believe that our thoughts and/or feelings require something other than physical reality to account for them fully? Do you believe, for example, that God is needed for human beings to be free, or to be conscious, or stuff like that? I appreciate that this is a silly question, in the sense that you believe that God is needed for anything to exist, which would include consciousness and free will necessarily. But do you think that free will or consciousness etc. is an especially good pointer to the existence of God?
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Pretty much exactly what I experienced and what I said.

    I can't really blame the guy. SciFo is not exactly supportive* of beliefs, especially of the God kind.
    *yourself excepted. I'm not as patient as you. He's not exactly wrong to be defensive with us, since we've shown him we bite.

    Maybe you'll have better luck and I'll lurk. It's at least more interesting than the usual God party line we hear here.

    Carry on.
  21. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Yet it certainly condones/supports/tolerates the unscientific position far more than most other forums.
  22. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    In other words

    Internalised as a warm fuzzy feeling

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  23. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

    Because it's the "Religion" forum. Inside the "Philosophy" forum.

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