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The Definitional Thread

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    (Original post by miser)
    These 'proofs' aren't absolute though - they rely on assumptions, for example that everything that can exist is subject to the rules of logic. Even science bases itself on assumptions - that the universe isn't just random and that there are laws that govern it. What if our assumptions are false? We can never know because there is never any evidence to the contrary.

    You can reason that there it is very, very likely that God does not exist, but it's impossible to rule it out completely.
    religious people simply believe that god exists, and that because they do, he does, and the rest of us are all wrong.

    i have a very strong belief that he doesn't, so he doesn't, and all the religious people are wrong

    simples
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    (Original post by miser)
    These 'proofs' aren't absolute though - they rely on assumptions, for example that everything that can exist is subject to the rules of logic. Even science bases itself on assumptions - that the universe isn't just random and that there are laws that govern it. What if our assumptions are false? We can never know because there is never any evidence to the contrary.

    You can reason that there it is very, very likely that God does not exist, but it's impossible to rule it out completely.
    This is not just an assumption, it's been demonstrated to be true. That's why science works when we try it out.
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    (Original post by miser)
    These 'proofs' aren't absolute though - they rely on assumptions, for example that everything that can exist is subject to the rules of logic. Even science bases itself on assumptions - that the universe isn't just random and that there are laws that govern it. What if our assumptions are false? We can never know because there is never any evidence to the contrary.

    You can reason that there it is very, very likely that God does not exist, but it's impossible to rule it out completely.
    It is always possible to argue that the axioms are wrong, that the inductive principle is circular, that Occam's razor is a heuristic, and so on. They are as absolute as anything gets. They are the basic premises by which science is done.

    So you can reason to the same level of validity that it is possible to reason about space being curved, electrons behaving sometimes as waves and sometimes as particles, or the sun being powered by a giant fusion reaction in it's centre. Whether or not you consider that sufficient for certainty is more personal taste really. I consider it to be at least as certain as any known physical or mathematical law, which is certain enough for me. Down this road lies all sorts of philosophical debates about the nature of truth, knowledge and certainty.

    Or failing that, departing from the null hypothesis without justification is considered false. We must assume that things for which there is no justification are false, although I'll grant this is a heuristic argument not a deductive one. Hence the squirrel, which is no more or less plausible than the sky daddy, the flying spaghetti monster, or the invisible pink unicorn.
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    (Original post by wacky9873)
    This is not just an assumption, it's been demonstrated to be true. That's why science works when we try it out.
    Ah, but there is the problem with the empirical principle.

    The principle states that if something has consistently been the case in the past, we can assume that it will be so in the future. The only justification for it is that it has worked consistently in the past, so we assume that it will in the future.

    Circular logic, you see?
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    (Original post by wacky9873)
    This is not just an assumption, it's been demonstrated to be true. That's why science works when we try it out.
    They're definitely assumptions. There's no proof that the universal constants won't all suddenly change tomorrow evening.

    The assumptions that science makes are explained here: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/basic_assumptions

    They each appear to be true, but we cannot prove that they are true and that they will hold indefinitely.

    (Original post by mmmpie)
    It is always possible to argue that the axioms are wrong, that the inductive principle is circular, that Occam's razor is a heuristic, and so on. They are as absolute as anything gets. They are the basic premises by which science is done.

    So you can reason to the same level of validity that it is possible to reason about space being curved, electrons behaving sometimes as waves and sometimes as particles, or the sun being powered by a giant fusion reaction in it's centre. Whether or not you consider that sufficient for certainty is more personal taste really. I consider it to be at least as certain as any known physical or mathematical law, which is certain enough for me. Down this road lies all sorts of philosophical debates about the nature of truth, knowledge and certainty.

    Or failing that, departing from the null hypothesis without justification is considered false. We must assume that things for which there is no justification are false, although I'll grant this is a heuristic argument not a deductive one. Hence the squirrel, which is no more or less plausible than the sky daddy, the flying spaghetti monster, or the invisible pink unicorn.
    I don't disagree with anything here - I think you said it all very well. We can be personally certain, and we can assume the non-existence of the inherently unprovable, but that's not to say that the unprovable doesn't necessarily exist. We do our best to make sense of a world without a perfect set of evidence, and so we can only assume the non-existence of the FSM and IPU, ruling them out as living in the realm of the ridiculously improbable.
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    (Original post by Dandaman1)
    Therefore it is quite possible to hold both an agnostic and atheistic position at the same time for example, as both terms are about different things and aren’t mutually exclusive.
    Thanks for reminding me of this!
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    People like me, who are almost certain of God's existence, admit that they cannot 100% prove it, but faith closes this gap.

    Similarly, atheists feel that they are certain, but they cannot disprove God, so they have to have faith in asserting that He does not exist. Surely any atheist wanting to avoid faith should instead be an agnostic?
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    Saw this in the I-Soc thread:

    Silence is the best reply to a fool.” - Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negativ...sitive_atheism

    Who said athiesm was about avoiding faith anyway?
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    I suppose in a sense it involves faith (every aspect of our life does), but crucially, it's not blind faith like what religion relies on. The faith in scientific matters is safer because it involves sensible, plausible theories backed up by mountains of evidence/observation. A good scientist has a reason for thinking everything that he thinks, and if he hasn't got a rational reason, then he admits it, and says he is unsure. With religion, people make all these assertions with no actual evidence or sensible reason behind them, aside from the words of an old book and a lifetime of essentially brainwashing by family, the church, and so on. So it's just as easy to dismiss those claims without needing any evidence or reason for doing so.

    I think the only safe position to be is agnostic. Both atheists and the religious go around making claims about things that no one really knows about. I do side with atheism in the sense that there is every reason for us to dismiss religious teaching based on contrary evidence, but that says nothing about the existence of some sort of "God" or supernatural being responsible for kicking off the universe in the first place. As far as I'm aware, we will never be able to peer further back into history than the big bang, so how can we rule out a "God"? As far as I can tell, it is as good an explanation as we have for how stuff came to exist in the first place, and we have no evidence to dismiss it. On the other hand, we have no real evidence in its favour either, and we are just deferring the problem from "what created us" to "what created God", so is proposing a God really getting us anywhere?
    I don't think it will ever be known by any living person, so people need to stop going around acting like they do - no one has the slightest idea really. All we have, even in 2011, is speculation. All I am certain of is that (whether or not there was ever some sort of being responsible for all of this), every religion is just made up, a hangover from a long-lost age where people didn't know any better than to trust it, and should not be taken seriously.
    Infact, I think the answer to all of this might even be beyond human comprehension, in the same way as, for example, a dog is just incapable of having any understanding of differential calculus.
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    Atheism or non-belief is the default setting for the belief of all things, not just god.

    People generally state that something is not true, or does not exist, until evidence is put forwards to suggest otherwise. Everyone (above a certain age of course) is a santa/ toothfairy 'atheist', and will remain firm in their non-belief until they're proven otherwise - the same is true for atheists with god.

    tl;dr God probably doesn't exist, stop making threads.
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    Do you never get bored of making these threads...?
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    I don't make the faith leap as an atheist, I cannot through reason or logic arrive at God's existence and personally regard the leap of faith to be a fallacious position; not enough evidence or a convincing philosophical argument.
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    (Original post by Ineluctable)
    People like me, who are almost certain of God's existence, admit that they cannot 100% prove it, but faith closes this gap.

    Similarly, atheists feel that they are certain, but they cannot disprove God, so they have to have faith in asserting that He does not exist. Surely any atheist wanting to avoid faith should instead be an agnostic?
    I think I should point out that most atheists would define it as the lack of belief about existence, rather than the positive statement about non-existence.
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    To be anything other than agnostic is to have some kind of faith - you can't know for sure that gods don't exist and you can't know for sure that they do.
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    (Original post by Ineluctable)
    People like me, who are almost certain of God's existence, admit that they cannot 100% prove it, but faith closes this gap.

    Similarly, atheists feel that they are certain, but they cannot disprove God, so they have to have faith in asserting that He does not exist. Surely any atheist wanting to avoid faith should instead be an agnostic?
    We are all born atheists and no one jumps to conclusions and assumes something true without a shred of evidence. Hence why religion requires 'a leap of faith'.
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    What do Atheists have a belief in?

    Nothing.

    There's no faith to be had, Atheism is the default position of mankind.
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    its about the burden of proof. atheism should be the default position unless someone can create a convincing theory of religion which is statistically probable....
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    Well this isn't one bit repetitive...
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    Absolutely rejecting the existence of any divine or supernatural entitity despite an inability to prove otherwise is, yes, a matter of faith, but it's taken from extrapolation from evidence or non-evidence leading to a decision against a God. You'll find not so many atheists deny the very concept of it, only that they choose to stand on the 'no' side.

    The term 'agnostic' exists for a reason.

    By the way, are you able to pose an argument that isn't taken from the book of top ten cliché Christian fallacies, or do you just like being unoriginal? Just accept that some people don't have supernatural belief, you'll be much happier.

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