Religions are false alright, but why can’t believers see it?
My point was rather that you seem settled on the fact that God doesn’t exist. Fine. We can debate that for years and probably not get anywhere (but who knows?). What I find surprising though is that, given that there are so many intelligent and thinking people who do believe in God, why you would trust your conclusion that they are all insane (famous or otherwise) uncritically. You might be right (I am not the guardian of truth) but we aren’t insane because we hold wrong beliefs. I read your posts with interest and I don’t find them convincing at all. This is not because I am insane!read more...
It’s curious to see how religious geniuses (Christians and the like) are almost the only ones who “find” flaws in articles such as this one; only them. You never have the “right interpretations” for what they think must be the case. You don’t see as many commenters under those posts who are (1) non-believers and (2) do not wish to cover their own asses by trying to take down anything that questions their sanities and (3) find something substantial about the argument to attack, instead of red herring and attacking a straw man of their own making. For that matter, you don’t find a commenter who only meets the first criteria in the list for posts such as that one. Isn’t it interesting? One should ask what their motives might be. Why only them and not anyone else?read more...
“They call them extremists. We have our own names. We call them senators, congressman, governors, mayors, state legislators.” [Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition Executive Director]
It’s a disturbing observation that some people discuss matters not to learn or to investigate them but merely to convert you. I am talking about mystical minds, supers, and those who believe in things beyond the natural world or outside of the Universe, whatever that might mean.
There is a nice saying, attributed to Socrates by no one less than Plato, “I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.” And this is what the horror story I am going to tell you is formed around.
Let us assume, just for the sake of the argument, that we defined the word “god” already in such a way that it is coherent, consistent, and meaningful. That’s to say, let’s assume that we know what we are talking about. Then, we would be able to talk about what we called “god” without uttering pure nonsense. Only then! That is a big problem right in the beginning. In order for us to talk about an entity, call it x, we need to know something about it. Maybe we need to know what relationship(s) it might have with some other entities like y. Or perhaps what properties x might posses and lack. Even if x is an imaginary, abstract entity that we just made up, we need to know something about it.
How much do we need to know about x before we can start talking about it? Do we need to know everything about it before we can start? Everything that there is? Obviously not. Then, how much knowledge do we need to have, as a bare minimum, before we can start to talk about x?
In different sciences, when we postulate an entity such as x and we try to find its relationship with other entities, we usually know at least one thing about x, that x, whether it exists or not, might have some relationships with other entities.
Look at a very interesting entity called i, the imaginary unit, whose core property we decided to be i2 = -1. Pretty funny, eh? So, right away we know a few things about i:
i2 = −1
Solving i is not possible with axioms of elementary arithmetic, (as Edgar Brown said, “Simple equations such as a × a = −c cannot be solved even though a and −c are inside the real field unless we close the field with the addition of “i””); it goes against axioms such as:
a × 1 = a
a × −1 = −a
The product of two negative numbers is the same as the product of the same two positive numbers:a × b = (−a) × (−b) Here are the proofs for the axioms by the way (http://goo.gl/OqBDw).
As you can see, as soon as we assumed the existence of i as an imaginary friend, we started to know a few things about it. Nevertheless, all what we knew about it, or all what we assumed was nothing but i × i = −1.
This example shows us something important: That what we know or assume about x cannot be nothing. Either we have to know something about x or we have to assume something about x.
Now, when it comes to the concept of “god,” people seem to either assume or claim to know something about it. Let us investigate each options separately.
Assuming that x exists
We usually assume something when we don’t know enough about what we are assuming. What comes after the assumption, is usually derived through induction or deduction. If our assumption is false, the consequences of our reasoning after the assumption does not matter. The consequences might be true (in case of invalid arguments from the false assumptions) or false (in case of valid argument from the false assumptions). In both cases, the consequences do not matter. No sound argument can be made that has false assumptions, valid arguments, and also true consequences.
If the assumption happens to be true though, and our arguments also happen to be valid, then we will have nothing but true consequences.
However, the big problem with this, when it comes to assuming the existence of “god” is this: How do you know that your assumption is true?
How do we know if an assumption is true?
There is one way, and only one way to make sure if an assumption is true: Testing.
There are many ways of testing an assumption to see if it’s true or false. But, all of them are testing, one way or another. You might be able to test it by:
Comparing it with other established facts and see if it conflicts with them
Find an example that contradicts the assumption
Try to gather evidences to support the assumption
There are many more ways of testing an assumption but all of these methods are different ways of testing. Among these methods, the weakest one is the third one. What the third method can do for us at best is to give us some hints. Examples and evidences alone are not enough for an assumption to be true. They must also coincide with (i.e. be corroborated by) other methods of testing our assumptions. Here is an example to show you why mere evidences are not enough to conclusively show an assumption to be true.
a. Let’s assume that all swans are white
b. We go to a park in Dusseldorf with a beautiful lake in the middle and see four white swans in there
c. Can we conclude that, “Yeah! ALL swans are white”?
d. No, we cannot.
e. How many more observations do we need before we can conclude that a is true?
f. Does seeing 100 white swans prove a?
g. No, it doesn’t.
h. Does seeing 100,000,000 white swans do the job?
j. How many then?
k. The number doesn’t matter. Evidences alone cannot prove an assumption like a to be trueread more...