• spirit-salamander
    89
    After having read the following quote, I came to the conclusion that the agnostic stance on the matter of God's existence might be the most reasonable:

    "There is no reason which is nobody's reason and which belongs, in Adam Smith's phrase, to an 'impartial spectator'. In this respect, there are no impartial spectators, nor are the differences between believers and unbelievers due to mistakes of logic on one side." (LUBOR VELECKY)

    I generally think that when theists and atheists discuss with each other, they should all have access to the following argumentation and appeal to "cards":

    Appeal to analogical predication (I may describe things metaphorically, in mere analogy, as a mere as-if, without it being in any sense literal or translatable into the literal)

    Appeal to mysteriousness (I may point out that certain things will forever remain mysterious and "undecipherable" to us because of our limited minds)

    Appeal to immunity of something to the Principle of Sufficient Reason (I may explicitly assume or presuppose brute facts or just is facts without any controversy otherwise I would implicitly just be question begging)

    It would be an unfair discussion if only one party had access to these "cards". And if both parties to the discussion were to have them, the initially neutral observer and listener would have to remain neutral, i.e. agnostic, at the end of the discussion as well.
  • Joe Mirsky
    5
    From my book, Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We Are, Second Edition

    Religion
    Oy! Worse than politics.

    I am a militant agnostic. It's unknown. It's unknowable*. What's for lunch?
    How liberating! Now you don’t have to worry about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, if his holy book is holier than thine, have to do this, can’t eat that.... No one knows, so why spin your wheels?

    Acceptance of divine mystery is, I have heard, the hallmark of spiritual maturity. I just cut out the middlebeing and get my mystery directly. Occam’s razor shaves God's beard.

    Now that you don’t have to worry about what it's all about, you're a naive realist, like your dog: it is what it is.

    The fundamental mystery is that there is anything at all. To be or not to be. Let me know when you figure that one out.

    Amen.

    * Unknowable is the militant part.
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    After having read the following quote, I came to the conclusion that the agnostic stance on the matter of God's existence might be the most reasonable:spirit-salamander

    Yes. That is my position.

    * First, it's absurd that there's a Causeless Cause (CC) that created everything; let alone that the CC has a beard, a white robe, and cares a lot about how people have sex.

    * Second, it's equally absurd that the universe either began to exist or has always existed, along with its apparently exquisitely intricate design, without any cause at all.

    * Finally, I do not have the arrogance or self-importance to imagine that I could ever be personally possessed of the answer -- as so many others on all sides (the Intelligent Design proponents, the traditional Christian believers, the "New atheists); -- believe themselves to be.

    I truly have no idea. In fact I go further. I don't believe the question is answerable. This belief of mine has a name: the New Mysterianism.

    As Wikipedia, says:

    New mysterianism—or commonly just mysterianism—is a philosophical position proposing that the hard problem of consciousness cannot be resolved by humans. The unresolvable problem is how to explain the existence of qualia (individual instances of subjective, conscious experience). In terms of the various schools of philosophy of mind, mysterianism is a form of nonreductive physicalism.

    I go further. I say that not only consciousness, but also the origin of the world is in the same category. A mystery outside of human ability to resolve or understand or know.

    As I put it, somewhere on earth there is a forest. In that forest is a tree; and on that tree is a branch. The branch has many leaves; and on one of those leaves is a caterpillar. And that caterpillar has an ontology. It knows what to eat, and what wants to eat it. It knows when to sleep and when to wake. It knows night from day. It knows when it's warm and it knows when it's cold. It knows, deep in its cells and its DNA, that someday it will ascend to become a beautiful butterfly. But it can never know about the branch and the tree and the forest and the earth, let alone the quarks and the gluons.

    Likewise we humans, who think so much of ourselves, are stuck at our own level of perception and understanding. The difference between me and Laurence Krauss is that neither of us knows how the world got here, but he thinks he knows and I know I don't. And he's wrong, and I'm right.
  • Constance
    280
    I am a militant agnostic. It's unknown. It's unknowable*. What's for lunch?Joe Mirsky

    But "it" is not a thing without parts, that is, it bears analysis. The trouble with agnosticism is it resignation the foundational issues as being impenetrable, as if language simply runs out in the exhaustive account of a popular religion. No. This is just the beginning. God? Jesus being the truth, the light and the way? Salvation? Redemption? these kinds of questions go to the implicit substance of religion, the actualities that are there, in the giveness of the world which constitute what the religion is really about.
    Religious metaphysics is not about invented problems. It is about problems inherent in everyday life, but are unspoken, even taboo.
  • NOS4A2
    4.5k


    I am a militant agnostic. It's unknown. It's unknowable*. What's for lunch?

    How do you know?

    An agnostic necessarily believes in the possibility of god, or else he wouldn’t leave the question open. My question is, how can the agnostic believe in the possibility of god?
  • Constance
    280
    Finally, I do not have the arrogance or self-importance to imagine that I could ever be personally possessed of the answerfishfry

    But where did that imposition of a limitation come from? I would suggest that you and everyone else is endowed with a suppressed intuitive ability to engage the world at a much deeper level, and it is the philosophy of our age, the positivism, the privileging of science and technology, the disillusionment with public religions, and so on, that create the line you think is uncrossable.
  • Joe Mirsky
    5
    Lighten up people. It's just a bit of whimsy.

    Here's another bit of whimsy from my book Here's a contest for you. How many oxymorons are in the article.


    God Only Knows
    My town voted to allow holiday religious displays on public property, all comers allowed — the no establishment of religion thing.

    The town put up the standard pagan “Holiday Tree” in front of the municipal building with no religious ceremony. A resident pushed to have it officially called a “Christmas tree,” but the town council declined.

    A rabbi agreed. Instead of ecumenically christening it a Hanukkah bush, he asserted that it was a Christian symbol and put up a menorah, which he said was not a religious symbol but a universal symbol of freedom and light.

    Then the Christians put up a nativity scene. The infidels trumped that with a 2 x 9 foot billboard with the three wise men, the nativity scene and Star of Bethlehem (6 pointed version) saying “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season Celebrate REASON!” The billboard was promptly desecrated in the dead of night, either by an ill wind or sacreligionists unknown.

    You never see agnostic billboards. Vigorously asserting that it can’t be asserted comes off wimpy: It May or May not be a Myth!

    God Only Knows sounds better.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    99


    The difference between me and Laurence Krauss is that neither of us knows how the world got here, but he thinks he knows and I know I don't. And he's wrong, and I'm right.fishfry

    What makes you think Krauss' explanation is wrong?
  • Banno
    12k
    SO is it now OK to use the forum to try to boost sales on one's vanity publishing?
  • Joe Mirsky
    5
    SO is it now OK to use the forum to try to boost sales on one's vanity publishing?

    Did you click the link to my book site?
    Try it and then judge how vain it is. This is called the empirical method.
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    But where did that imposition of a limitation come from? I would suggest that you and everyone else is endowed with a suppressed intuitive ability to engage the world at a much deeper level, and it is the philosophy of our age, the positivism, the privileging of science and technology, the disillusionment with public religions, and so on, that create the line you think is uncrossable.Constance

    Did you read my caterpillar story? Caterpillar on a leaf on a branch on a tree in a forest knows what to eat and what wants to eat it. It knows night from day, when to sleep, when to forage. It knows in its DNA that it will someday transform into a butterfly. It has an ontology. But it can't know about the tree, the forest, the earth, the solar system, the quarks and gluons, and so forth. By analogy that's the situation we're in. We may well not be at the top of the intelligence scale. Gotta go finish eating my leaf now.
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    What makes you think Krauss' explanation is wrong?Down The Rabbit Hole

    I did not say his explanation is wrong. I said his BELIEF that he knows the ultimate origin of the universe is wrong. His account of the universe arising out of the quantum field and the laws of physics is correct (to the extent of the state of our current knowledge). His belief that this is an ultimate explanation is wrong. Where did the quantum field and the laws of physics come from?

    His book is called A Universe from Nothing. Now that's bullpucky. Nothing? Nothing is nothing. Nothing is not the quantum field and the laws of nature already sitting there waiting for a random fluctuation to cause the big bang.

    In an interview he admitted that the title is deliberately provocative in order to sell books. Fair enough if he's pushing a fad diet or celebrity gossip. Not so much when he's acting as a science educator to the public.

    Krauss is an arrogant jerk. And a smart physicist. Those two are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they're far too often highly correlated.
  • Valentinus
    1.2k
    In this respect, there are no impartial spectatorsspirit-salamander

    Can one prove that against the other arguments for empirical observations?
    Sounds arbitrary.
  • Tom Storm
    967
    In fairness to atheists, the more sophisticated kind do not make a positive claim about God's non-existence. That would require proof.

    The more nuanced positioned held by most atheists I have read is that they have no good reason to accept the proposition that a god or gods exist. This form of atheist would probably say something like - the time to believe in a proposition is when there is good evidence for it.

    In other words, the traditional arguments in defence of some kind of deity can be dealt with and are unconvincing. The matter of which a particular deity (Deist/Christian/Muslim) to assert belongs to an entirely different series of arguments.

    It would also be fair to point out that many modern Christians reject traditional arguments for God's existence too. Some of them prefer to use pre-suppositionalist apologetics (Alvin Plantinga), which are pretty fun.

    There's the category of 'atheist agnostic' - they are atheist regarding belief in God and agnostic on the idea of God as being incoherent or unknowable. Some people find this position unacceptable. I personally find pure agnosticism a bit wishy washy and I suspect that most pure agnostics have one foot in a 'higher power' belief system but know they can't yet justify this.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    99


    His belief that this is an ultimate explanation is wrong.fishfry

    It seems that any ultimate explanation would appear absurd to us.

    Why not Krauss' one? What would be a better ultimate explanation than that?
  • Constance
    280
    Did you read my caterpillar story? Caterpillar on a leaf on a branch on a tree in a forest knows what to eat and what wants to eat it. It knows night from day, when to sleep, when to forage. It knows in its DNA that it will someday transform into a butterfly. It has an ontology. But it can't know about the tree, the forest, the earth, the solar system, the quarks and gluons, and so forth. By analogy that's the situation we're in. We may well not be at the top of the intelligence scale. Gotta go finish eating my leaf now.fishfry

    The point is missed. The very conditions of your accepting the actual terms of your limitations, all this talk about caterpillars and inherent boundaries of knowing, is itself imposed by the standards of normalcy you internalized when you were a child. Were it otherwise, and the lines drawn were not so rigorously established, perhaps in a world open to greater possibilities, you would be able to see terms like god, spirituality, redemption, divinity and the like actually have an existential underpinning that is simply structurally ignored in a science oriented world like ours. Remember, empirical science, I gather from your thinking, rules not just what you believe, but what you will not believe.
    This doesn't make popular ideas of theism believable, but it does change the conversation, from, say, Jesus' ascension to heaven to talk about metaethics and human interiority.
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    Why not Krauss' one? What would be a better ultimate explanation than that?Down The Rabbit Hole

    Krauss claims to explain how the world came from "nothing." But the only way to make this work -- and Krauss has admitted this in print -- is to change the definition of nothing to me "the relativistic quantum field plus the laws of physics." And that's not nothing. But I already said exactly this a few posts ago when you or someone else asked the exact same question.

    Krauss can't tell us where the relativistic quantum field (RQF) and the laws of physics came from. So he's done great service in laying out the process by which the RQF and the laws of physics brought about the world. But he's utterly failed in his greater claim that he's explained everything. And as I've already point out, he has admitted changing the definition of nothing and naming his book A Universe from Nothing in order to sell more books.

    The point is missed. The very conditions of your accepting the actual terms of your limitations, all this talk about caterpillars and inherent boundaries of knowing, is itself imposed by the standards of normalcy you internalized when you were a child. Were it otherwise, and the lines drawn were not so rigorously established, perhaps in a world open to greater possibilities, you would be able to see terms like god, spirituality, redemption, divinity and the like actually have an existential underpinning that is simply structurally ignored in a science oriented world like ours. Remember, empirical science, I gather from your thinking, rules not just what you believe, but what you will not believe.
    This doesn't make popular ideas of theism believable, but it does change the conversation, from, say, Jesus' ascension to heaven to talk about metaethics and human interiority.
    Constance

    I would like to call your attention to the religious views of Isaac Newton. Newton was a devout believer. To start with,

    Isaac Newton (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727)[1] was considered an insightful and erudite theologian by his contemporaries.[2][3][4] He wrote many works that would now be classified as occult studies and religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible.

    In fact during his life he wrote far more words on theology and religion than he did on math and science.

    Nevertheless, he was a profound scientist, perhaps the greatest of all time. How did he reconcile this? Long story short, he discovered the laws of nature, and then said how wonderful it was that God had created them.

    His law of gravity was criticized because it described gravity without explaining it. He said that two bodies are attracted to each other by a force proportional to the product of their masses, and inversely proportional to the square of their distance from one another. But he could not say WHY that happened.

    He said basically that God did it. He was fine with that. He believed in God, he wrote about God, he talked about God. And he did brilliant science, in order to uncover and elucidate the works of God.

    Likewise I say to you that there is no conflict between religion and science. I am not one of these "new atheists" or believer in "scientism" as you seem to think I am. On the contrary, I find it a perfectly logical position to look at the laws of nature as discovered by science, and say, "It's pretty cool that God made all that."

    It's ok with me if people don't believer God made the laws of nature, that they just happened by chance or whatever.

    But I find no contradiction between doing good science and the belief that God made the laws of science. And as evidence, I point to the greatest scientist of them all, my man Ike, Isaac Newton.

    Now I also take your point that you believe that we are the highest level of intelligence below God. "The crown of creation." That unlike the caterpillar, we have no level above us. This I am not so sure about. The intellectual history of humanity is to realize that we are not central. We are not at the center of the universe. We're not at the center of the solar system. The laws that govern the heavens are the same laws that operate on earth. Darwin showed that we are not separate from the animals. Although let's not get sidetracked into Darwinism, and I'm happy to stipulate that I'm a fan of the modern anti-Darwinists like Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, et. al. I don't necessarily agree with them, but I do respect their opinions and I keep an open mind.

    I don't think it's beyond possibility that there is an intelligence beyond ours, in the same way ours is beyond the intelligence of a caterpillar.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    99


    I'm not trying to catch you out; I'm genuinely interested in your view.

    Maybe, nothing came before that "nothing". What would be a less absurd ultimate explanation than the "nothing" Krauss speaks of?
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    I'm not trying to catch you out; I'm genuinely interested in your view.Down The Rabbit Hole

    I don't feel that you're trying to catch me out. I just feel like I answered the question the best I can already and can't say much more. I gave three links at the end to excellent articles criticizing Krauss on the grounds I've given, but of course saying it much better than I can.

    Maybe, nothing came before that "nothing".Down The Rabbit Hole

    Krauss's physics is correct and (from what I hear, I haven't read his book) he gives a fine popularized account of how the universe began from the RQF and the laws of physics.

    What I object to is his equivocating the word "nothing" so that he can say the RQF is nothing, when it's perfectly obvious that it's not; along with his actual in-print admission that he only called his book, A Universe from Nothin in order to sell more books; and his claims that this disproves God (or whatever he claims along these lines). Of course it does nothing of the sort.

    What would be a less absurd ultimate explanation than the "nothing" Krauss speaks of?Down The Rabbit Hole

    Your question contains an implicit assumption I strongly disagree with. You say, what would be a less absurd ultimate explanation that Krauss's. But I say Krauss has no ultimate explanation at all. At best he's gone one turtle down.

    Krauss does not have an ultimate explanation. Do you agree with that? If the question is why are there elephants, we say animals. Why animals, life. Why life, organic molecules. Why organic molecules, atoms. Why atoms? Protons, neutrons, and electrons. Why protons and neutrons? Because quarks. (The electrons don't have internal parts as far as we know). Then we ask why quarks, and Krauss tells us: quantum fields. And if we ask why quantum fields, Krauss says, "That's the ultimate explanation. Why are you so stupid?" He has an arrogant jerk kind of attitude as it happens.

    Now why do you think the RQF is an ultimate explanation? After all in 1900 they thought atoms were the ultimate explanation. This was right before relativity and the quantum revolution.

    I am not saying Krauss/RQF is not THE ultimate explanation. I'm saying it's not even AN ultimate explanation; because it immediately provokes one to ask, "Well that's pretty cool, the universe arose out a spontaneous symmetry breaking or whatever of the primeval RQF. So tell me, where did the primeval RQF come from, not to mention the laws of physics? Why should there be laws of physics at all?" Aren't these questions that immediately -- immediately! -- suggest themselves? We've gone from elephants to molecules to atoms to quarks to quantum fields, and Krauss says that we need not inquire any further? That's obviously wrong, right?

    One more point, I quote from Wiki

    The main theme of the book is how "we have discovered that all signs suggest a universe that could and plausibly did arise from a deeper nothing—involving the absence of space itself and—which may one day return to nothing via processes that may not only be comprehensible but also processes that do not require any external control or direction. [fishfry -- emphasis mine]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Universe_from_Nothing

    Here Krauss is stepping out of his lane from physics to theology. After all, maybe God made the quantum field. This is a very old debate. Newton was able to describe gravity but he could not explain it. He only knew how it behaved, but he was not able to determine an underlying cause. He himself was mystified by his action-at-a-distance. And you know what he said? He said it's due to God. And he's the greatest scientist of them all.

    So Krauss is a pretentious blowhard; and self-consciously so, because he knows that merely talking about RQF won't sell as many books as saying he proved the universe came from nothing without any need for God. That sells books!

    I hope my response answers your question. I'm not saying there's a better theory of the origin of the world. I'm saying Krauss hasn't got one at all. What he does have is a nice layperson-level explanation of a speculative scientific theory as to how the world could have arisen from the RQF. Claims that we need not look further and that there is no God is why I criticize him.

    Here are two excellent articles critical of his book that I hope you'll read. I was going to pull-quote some paragraphs but this is already long enough. If you are interested in criticism of Krauss, or why I'm critical of Krauss, these articles have influences my thinking.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/a-universe-from-nothing-by-lawrence-m-krauss.html

    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/is-lawrence-krauss-a-physicist-or-just-a-bad-philosopher/

    The title of the second one is, "Is Lawrence Krauss a Physicist, or Just a Bad Philosopher?" I couldn't put it any better. I do hope you'll read these articles if you want to see some high-toned Krauss criticism, far better than I can do.

    Here's Massimo Pigliucci on the subject, he's another critic.

    http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2012/04/lawrence-krauss-another-physicist-with.html

    I don’t know what’s the matter with physicists these days. It used to be that they were an intellectually sophisticated bunch, with the likes of Einstein and Bohr doing not only brilliant scientific research, but also interested, respectful of, and conversant in other branches of knowledge, particularly philosophy. These days it is much more likely to encounter physicists like Steven Weinberg or Stephen Hawking, who merrily go about dismissing philosophy for the wrong reasons, and quite obviously out of a combination of profound ignorance and hubris (the two often go together, as I’m sure Plato would happily point out). The latest such bore is Lawrence Krauss, of Arizona State University.

    I hope you'll read that one too!
  • Constance
    280
    Now I also take your point that you believe that we are the highest level of intelligence below God. "The crown of creation." That unlike the caterpillar, we have no level above us.fishfry

    You use the caterpillar as a model for us? And these references to Darwin pin you to the very mundane scientism you deny. Caterpillars do not give us an analysis of the structures of thought and experience. Do you really think you can infer from an insect's world to ours? And why bother? We only rely on analogies when we have no actual conditions to examine, and in our case you have the actual conditions our existence to observe. Evolution will tell you nothing of the qualitative events that may or may not confirm foundations of religion.
    This talk about levels above or below is just general speculation. Ask rather: what IS there in framework of experience that gives rise to religious ideas that is not part of the incidental features of our making?
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    You use the caterpillar as a model for us? And these references to Darwin pin you to the very mundane scientism you deny. Caterpillars do not give us an analysis of the structures of thought and experience. Do you really think you can infer from an insect's world to ours?Constance

    You could substitute a house cat if you prefer. Cats most definitely have sophisticated mental states. They have dreams, for one thing. That I assume must indicate a fairly high order of mentation.

    I knew my reference to Darwin was a mistake. And I immediately qualified it by saying I have some interest in and perhaps sympathy for the position of the Darwin skeptics. I name-checked a couple. No use, the rhetorical damage was done.

    I wrote an entire post explaining my position that since Newton combined great science with deep belief in God, that I found no contradiction in doing science and then saying, "It's amazing that God created all these interesting natural laws, as well as the world." I'm perfectly ok with that.

    I would ask you to go back and re-read what I actually wrote, and don't be triggered by the word Darwin. Be honest with me. Would a hard-core scientism type name-drop Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer? The fact that I know who they are should tell you that I have a more open mind and broader interests than you think I do.

    And why bother? We only rely on analogies when we have no actual conditions to examine, and in our case you have the actual conditions our existence to observe. Evolution will tell you nothing of the qualitative events that may or may not confirm foundations of religion.Constance

    That one D-word I used caused to to not hear anything else I said. Newton was the greatest scientist of all time and he was big on God too. I'm ok with that. It's a bit of my own position as well if I think about it, which I don't too much. But you misconstrue my words greatly if my mention of Darwin caused you to miss everything else I wrote. I knew it was going to get me in trouble the moment I wrote it but it was part of the point I was making. So let me roll it back. We used to think we were at the center of the solar system and we turned out not to be. So perhaps we think we're the ultimate in intelligence and we're not. That was my point, not to spark a debate on evolution. But even so, I'm far more sympathetic to your position than you give me credit for.

    This talk about levels above or below is just general speculation.Constance

    Of course. Your belief that there's no level above (except for God) is speculation. My belief that there MIGHT be (not definitely, just might be) is speculation.

    Ask rather: what IS there in framework of experience that gives rise to religious ideas that is not part of the incidental features of our making?Constance

    Now THAT is a good question, and one that I would put to an atheist. Even if there is no God, we must still account for the universality of religious experience and belief, and its influence on history. It seems to be hardwired into our minds. Or (ahem) maybe we evolved that way. Perhaps belief in a supernatural higher being confers evolutionary advantage.

    I agree with you on this point. That it's a good question. Whether or not there's a God, the belief in God is a powerful aspect of the history of the world.

    For the record I'm agnostic, not an atheist at all. I truly don't know. The universe is full of miracles that can't be explained. I don't think it could have been all luck. But I don't agree with intelligent design. That's too easy a cop-out. "God did it" is often a clue that we need to look deeper using reason.
  • TheMadFool
    9.4k
    It's time to issue a challenge to theists and atheists alike?

    1. Theist, do you have a watertight argument for the existence of god? No, of course not! Why else would there be atheists?

    2. Atheist, do you have conclusive proof that god doesn't exist? Certainly not! Why else would there be theists?

    The very existence of each (theist/atheist) proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the agnostic position to wit, the existence of god is still far, very far, from being an open-and-shut case.

    That being said, atheists have yet to produce an adequate response/refutation to/of St. Anselm's ontological argument.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    99


    I understand what you are saying about the abuse of the word "nothing".

    Krauss does not have an ultimate explanation. Do you agree with that? If the question is why are there elephants, we say animals. Why animals, life. Why life, organic molecules. Why organic molecules, atoms. Why atoms? Protons, neutrons, and electrons. Why protons and neutrons? Because quarks. (The electrons don't have internal parts as far as we know). Then we ask why quarks, and Krauss tells us: quantum fields. And if we ask why quantum fields, Krauss says, "That's the ultimate explanation. Why are you so stupid?" He has an arrogant jerk kind of attitude as it happens.fishfry

    I think Krauss' explanation, is at least as good of an ultimate explanation as the alternatives (god/s, something from literally nothing, universe that has existed forever).

    Now why do you think the RQF is an ultimate explanation? After all in 1900 they thought atoms were the ultimate explanation. This was right before relativity and the quantum revolution.fishfry

    I wouldn't go as far as saying I believe it is the ultimate explanation, only that it is at least equally plausible. I'm not sure if Krauss actively believes it to be the ultimate explanation? It would be interesting to see his reasoning.
  • Tom Storm
    967
    Atheist, do you have conclusive proof that god doesn't exist? Certainly not! Why else would there be theists?TheMadFool

    Theists are atheists of a sort too - they disbelieve in the hundreds, thousands of gods that others do or have believed in, without being able to disprove them. They don't even try.

    There are agnostic atheists - who are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity, and are agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact.

    I find it easy to say I don't believe in theism of any kind because I have no good reason to accept the proposition. Definitive disproof isn't relevant. Saying 'I don't know' is accurate too, but in practical terms kind of pointless since I have no belief. I am without god/s.
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    I wouldn't go as far as saying I believe it is the ultimate explanation, only that it is at least equally plausible. I'm not sure if Krauss actively believes it to be the ultimate explanation? It would be interesting to see his reasoning.Down The Rabbit Hole

    I hope you'll check out some of the links I gave and google around for more. A lot of people have written pro and con about Krauss's book. I'm out of my depth, I've said everything I know.

    But I do wonder why you think Kraus has any sort of "ultimate" explanation when it leaves unexplained the primeval existence of the RQF and the laws of physics. Why do these things exist, and is their existence necessary or contingent, and have they always existed or did they come into existence? And how did that happen? Maybe God created the RQF and the laws of physics. But then you have to ask the same questions about God. Turtles all the way down. Questions that can never be answered.

    I'm just saying that he has a nice account of how the world might have arisen from the RQF, and there's value in that, but I don't see how you can feel that this is in any way "ultimate" when it immediately raises so many obvious questions.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    99


    I hope you'll check out some of the links I gave and google around for more. A lot of people have written pro and con about Krauss's book. I'm out of my depth, I've said everything I know.fishfry

    I appreciate the links. I will have to set some time aside to do some proper research.

    But I do wonder why you think Kraus has any sort of "ultimate" explanation when it leaves unexplained the primeval existence of the RQF and the laws of physics. Why do these things exist, and is their existence necessary or contingent, and have they always existed or did they come into existence? And how did that happen? Maybe God created the RQF and the laws of physics. But then you have to ask the same questions about God. Turtles all the way down. Questions that can never be answered.

    I'm just saying that he has a nice account of how the world might have arisen from the RQF, and there's value in that, but I don't see how you can feel that this is in any way "ultimate" when it immediately raises so many obvious questions.
    fishfry

    Any possible ultimate explanation would seem incomplete to us. Either we are the result of something that has been around forever (god/s, universe/s, RQF), or something came out of literally nothing.

    Us caterpillars may never know :lol:
  • Constance
    280
    You could substitute a house cat if you prefer. Cats most definitely have sophisticated mental states. They have dreams, for one thing. That I assume must indicate a fairly high order of mentation.

    I knew my reference to Darwin was a mistake. And I immediately qualified it by saying I have some interest in and perhaps sympathy for the position of the Darwin skeptics. I name-checked a couple. No use, the rhetorical damage was done.

    I wrote an entire post explaining my position that since Newton combined great science with deep belief in God, that I found no contradiction in doing science and then saying, "It's amazing that God created all these interesting natural laws, as well as the world." I'm perfectly ok with that.

    I would ask you to go back and re-read what I actually wrote, and don't be triggered by the word Darwin. Be honest with me. Would a hard-core scientism type name-drop Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer? The fact that I know who they are should tell you that I have a more open mind and broader interests than you think I do.
    fishfry

    But Meyer is a scientist/philosopher and talk about intelligent design and the like is talk about science. But then, no matter, for it is not science, the scientific method that is, that is in question, and that would be impossble (for to think at all is a performance of just this method), but what is being singled out for "observation". Writing up a proof for the existence of God based on observations of the complexity and functions of affairs in the natural world is not going to yield a proof of God, for ideas like designer and creator are non essential features, do not belong to the essence, if you will, of the idea of God.
    One has to be clear at the outset what it is that one is trying to confirm, and it is certainly not God the creator. This is not what an proper analytic of God gives us.

    Take God like any other object for analysis and look to its parts. and here we find a vast body of historical, scriptural, mythical narratives. We also find metaphysics. The former are incidental, I would say simply. Maybe Jesus rose from the dead, maybe not, but who cares. Such things come to us so embedded in naivete, suspicious motives that we can put aside "scripture" altogether. But then what IS there in this idea of God that is grounded in the actualities we encounter in the world? This goes to the metaphysics. Specifically, metaethics. Why are born to suffer and die? Then, what IS suffering, and bliss and pleasure and pain and so on? There are no answers to these questions, yet they go to foundational issues of meaning, importance, value: the question about God is a metaethical question, and the grounding is direct, in the world, palpable; it's in the falling in love and listening to music, being speared in the kidney; in the pleasure/pain, joy/suffering dimension of our existence.

    Agnosticism and atheism is a reticence to affirm an anthropomorphic deity, the latter being an outright denial, but I think such a position is vacuous simply because the reticence and denying is obvious, like denying the moon is really a goddess named Luna. What one really is trying to affirm is an irreducible moral foundation to our world, that is, affirming a redemption and deliverance from suffering and a consummation of happiness. How is this affirmed? That takes more further discussion.
  • Gnomon
    1.4k
    And if both parties to the discussion were to have them, the initially neutral observer and listener would have to remain neutral, i.e. agnostic, at theend of the discussion as well.spirit-salamander
    It's difficult for humans to approach any momentous question "neutrally". Instead, most of us -- myself included -- rely on Motivated Reasoning in order to justify our prior beliefs. That's why Faith Systems are so hard to successfully argue against. But "rational" philosophers are supposed to be able to argue against their own (owned) beliefs, in order to weed-out the chaff. Unfortunately, formal belief systems -- like the Catholic Church -- have professional philosophers (Theologians) whose primary goal is to "defend the faith". And my own less-formal Protestant indoctrination relied on mostly un-trained Preachers to justify our peculiar set of beliefs, by "preaching to the choir". Ironically, long past the "age of reason", I realized that most of their sermons were based on Motivated Reasoning.

    After my loss of faith, I called myself an Agnostic for many years. Since I had no better theory to explain the existence of this world -- the Multiverse hypothesis is a circular reason for being -- I couldn't reject the general creator-god-hypothesis out-of-hand. Yet, I also couldn't ignore the scientific evidence for a self-organizing universe, with no need for miraculous adjustments (outside intervention) to its course. Now, late in life, I do have a detailed personal theory of how (if not why) the world began in an act of creation, and how it self-organizes itself, in order to progress toward some unknown destination. So, the label "agnostic" no longer applies to me. But that doesn't make me a Theist or an Atheist. Instead my current appellation is "deist", and more specifically "PanEnDeist". Therefore, I rely on TPF posters to be neutral (or antagonistic) toward my worldview, in order to test my "faith". So far, they haven't converted me from the "error of my ways". But the "discussion" is not yet at an end, so there's still hope for enlightenment. :smile:

    Motivated reasoning :
    Motivated reasoning is a phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology that uses emotionally biased reasoning to produce justifications . . .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivated_reasoning
  • Pinprick
    640
    It's time to issue a challenge to theists and atheists alike?

    1. Theist, do you have a watertight argument for the existence of god? No, of course not! Why else would there be atheists?

    2. Atheist, do you have conclusive proof that god doesn't exist? Certainly not! Why else would there be theists?
    TheMadFool

    As if people only held rational beliefs...

    I’m sure you’re smart enough to realize this isn’t even an argument. Does the existence of round/flat earthers prove we should be agnostic regarding the Earth’s shape? The existence of two opposite ideas isn’t proof that a third one is true.

    Also, I’m of the opinion that absolute certainty isn’t required for knowledge, so watertight arguments aren’t necessary in either case. If they were, then in order to be consistent we would have to be agnostic regarding the existence of fairies, leprechauns, Santa Clause, etc. I see no reason to do so in these instances, nor the particular case of God(s).

    Regarding your second question, I was taught by my philosophy professor that proving the nonexistence of something, anything, was impossible because in order to prove something you must have evidence, and if something doesn’t exist there’s nothing that could count as evidence. So the question isn’t relevant. Besides, the burden of proof lies on the theist because he/she is the one making a positive assertion.

    That being said, I fail to see what makes agnosticism more rational than atheism. We are a very imaginative species, and are capable of coming up with all sorts of wild ideas and theories, the majority of which cannot even be tested. But that doesn’t mean all of them are plausible. The question of God’s existence is really a question about possibilities. For those who believe a God could exist, nothing must seem impossible. For if we are to consider the existence of a being that contradicts all that we are sure of as possible, what could remain as impossible? Until the time when physical causes are shown not to be enough to explain physical effects, belief in God’s existence will remain irrational. And agnosticism conceding that it’s possible for God to exist is equally irrational. After all, it is irrational to think that an irrational belief is possibly true.
  • fishfry
    2.2k
    Any possible ultimate explanation would seem incomplete to us. Either we are the result of something that has been around forever (god/s, universe/s, RQF), or something came out of literally nothing.Down The Rabbit Hole

    Yes. Agreed. But Krauss has no ultimate explanation, just a description of a speculative next level down. And do note that the RQF idea is speculation, not accepted or proven theory. I don't see how anyone can call it an ultimate explanation. But I already said that and perhaps we can agree to disagree.

    Us caterpillars may never knowDown The Rabbit Hole

    I'm not sure if you meant that as irony or lighthearted criticism of my position, but that is in fact my position.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    99


    Yes. Agreed. But Krauss has no ultimate explanation, just a description of a speculative next level down. And do note that the RQF idea is speculation, not accepted or proven theory. I don't see how anyone can call it an ultimate explanation. But I already said that and perhaps we can agree to disagree.fishfry

    Maybe there is something more fundamental than the RQF (if the theory is correct) I just see no reason for there to be, as it begs the same questions as the RQF.

    Us caterpillars may never know
    — Down The Rabbit Hole

    I'm not sure if you meant that as irony or lighthearted criticism of my position, but that is in fact my position.
    fishfry

    More the fact that we are debating something so absurd i.e what substance (for lack of a better word) has existed forever, or came into existence out of literally nothing! I wouldn't be surprised if we are the caterpillars, searching for a truth we can never know.
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