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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  17:19:09  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
We had a discussion about this before which ended with Dave and I sort of off in different directions about what science couldn't address. And maybe we weren't really far apart there even though it seemed like it. Anyway, I've been discussing this further here and there and it has helped me clarify in my mind why science can indeed show there is no god(s), at least no gods that interact with the Universe.

Where science truly cannot help us is only for things outside of the Universe. We have no way of looking at events before the Big Bang or outside of the Universe. We can't do anything in science to learn about those things. But the reason why we can't is the key. Those things have no impact, no influence, no evidence to detect, nothing to measure. That is why science cannot address them. Anything purported to have an impact on this Universe is within the realm of science and that includes testing for the presence of god(s).

I can drag out the original components of my first thread but they probably don't matter here. This comes down to something like if a god existed we should be able to detect it. And if we can't detect it, then for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist, (or if it does who cares?)

Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  18:54:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
I'm not sure which thread this discussion was conducted in, so my comment here might have been alreadly have been made by someone else.

The problem with saying that science can show that there is no god is that you are trying to prove a universal negative. You start by saying "I can't detect god here and I can't detect god there and I can't detect god in the oven: therefore there is no god". What you have failed to do is to check everywhere at all possible moments in time for the presence of the divine.

Example: For all we know, god could be interacting with this universe all the time and we still would not know about that. He could be reviving dead bodies faster than E. Coli multiples in your gut say, somewhere in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Also, the assumption you are making when concluding that we should be able to detect the presence of a god (if one exists) is that this god ALWAYS interacts with this universe. But as we know, the god of the bible (or an infinite number of other ones) is omnipotent. If it wishes, it could hide (NOT interact temporarily) and only perform its miracles (interact) when it knows that no one is trying to do any scientific measurements.

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  19:15:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
You can doubt the existence of a god.
You can believe that there is no god.
You can take no position on the existence of god.
You can take the position that you can't know if there is a god.

What you can't do, scientifically or otherwise, is prove that there is no god.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  19:41:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
Anything purported to have an impact on this Universe is within the realm of science and that includes testing for the presence of god(s).


Except for god's that don't interact with the universe and gods that don't interact with our section of the universe. There could be a god interacting with the universe millions of light years away from earth, and we would never know about it/him/her.

Or there could be a god that covers up all his/her/its tracks so that every time he/she/it interacts with the earth, we can reasonably dismiss it as a coincidence. I just flipped a coin heads 5 times in a row, show me this wasn't an act by a god.

Or there could be a god that exists as natural law. Everything we describe as scientific laws all happens because of this god. Negatives attract positives because god wants them to.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Edited by - Ricky on 01/12/2006 19:51:48
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  20:32:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
The only intellectually defensible position is:

To dismiss claims that are not supported by evidence.

You cannot provide evidence for the claim "god does not exist".

However, there is no evidence (or argument) to support the claim "god exists".

Just as there is no evidence to support the claim "there is an IPU in my livingroom".

I treat the claim "god exists" in the exact same way I treat the "IPU in my livingroom" claim.


In essence, what I'm saying, is that unevidenced claims are free of value or even meaning. The evidence is what defines them, and in the abscence of that evidence.... they are meaning-free.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  21:00:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

...at least no gods that interact with the Universe.
I agreed with that particular qualifier in the other thread. At least, I remember agreeing with it.

Gods which exist outside this universe, and/or haven't interacted with this universe for some time, may for all of science's "intents and purposes" not exist, but science is a small subset of all epistemologies. I think it's the best one we've got, but it's certainly not capable of answering all questions (for example, "what happened before the Big Bang?").

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  21:23:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.
[S]cience is a small subset of all epistemologies. I think it's the best one we've got, but it's certainly not capable of answering all questions (for example, "what happened before the Big Bang?").

Can any epistemology answer that question? I mean, correctly?


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  21:55:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Can any epistemology answer that question? I mean, correctly?
Good question. I readily admit to not knowing whether the answer is yes or no.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/12/2006 :  22:26:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Can any epistemology answer that question? I mean, correctly?
Good question. I readily admit to not knowing whether the answer is yes or no.

Fair enough. Can anyone rightly make the claim that they know?


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2006 :  02:32:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
All these good points are coming back to me now. I'll have to ponder some more on this.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2006 :  03:08:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Maybe it's just me, but I think the whole point is moot. Science is not in the business of confiming nor refuting that for which no empirical exidence can be produced. After all, if a god were proven to exist, it would no longer be supernatural and therefore could scarcly be called a god, could it?

Agreein' with Kil. Can't be done.


"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2006 :  03:58:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
Well, the only thing about god that can be proven is that there is no evidence of one. Whether or not that is actually a deterent to most people's willingness to believe is another question entirely.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2006 :  07:30:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
The new Skeptic vol 12 no1 has a logicians proof of the lack of a Creator. Its pretty funny.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2006 :  13:52:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

...at least no gods that interact with the Universe.
I agreed with that particular qualifier in the other thread. At least, I remember agreeing with it.

Gods which exist outside this universe, and/or haven't interacted with this universe for some time, may for all of science's "intents and purposes" not exist, but science is a small subset of all epistemologies. I think it's the best one we've got, but it's certainly not capable of answering all questions (for example, "what happened before the Big Bang?").

Yes, we did reach resolution in our discussion that was of a sufficient agreement. I think my only difference was not accepting the god premise in the first place because there was no reason to ask such a question.

Before the BB...we have reason to consider there was something before something rather than nothing before something.

Other universes...we have reason to consider there is something outside of the Universe rather than nothing.

Gods...we have no reason to consider gods that are outside of the Universe are anything other than a human invention.

None of the three can be investigated by science because they are outside of the realm of discovery. (Gods that do interact with the Universe are not meant here.)

I think we agreed on 3 of 4 of those.


But back to this thread. The above is relevant but not the focus. I'm not proposing there is no thing outside of science's realm of discovery and a god that doesn't interact with the Universe would be one of those things that is outside.

quote:
Originally posted by Kil

Maybe it's just me, but I think the whole point is moot. Science is not in the business of confiming nor refuting that for which no empirical exidence can be produced. After all, if a god were proven to exist, it would no longer be supernatural and therefore could scarcly be called a god, could it?
I don't know about the last statement there and as to the second, we agree. But the first statement that the point is moot because we can't test is not the same god(s) I am referring to. I am referring to any god that supposedly does interact with the Universe and that is my point. If it interacts it is within the realm of science.

Ricky, Kil, Hawks and Dude, if I read them correctly, brought up the fact one cannot test enough things to "prove" there is no god(s). And to this I had to return to my original thoughts and think a bit more.

Because what is happening is I've come to believe we are arbitrarily setting things outside of the realm of science, that sound like they belong outside but on closer exam I question if they indeed are. And that quality of being outside of the Universe, therefore outside of the realm of discovery is the sticking point I am having trouble with.

If god is outside of the Universe there is no god inside the Universe, so for all intents and purposes, there is no god. In other words a god outside the Universe doesn't matter anyway.

So we come back to, "can you prove a negative?" And the answer is, "not under most circumstances" (barring mathematical proofs). However, there are many negatives which we do not exclude from the realm of science and do not exclude from testing. And that's what I thought about after reading your replies.

Forgetting about absolute proofs for the moment, what if we merely wish to test the god hypothesis or even the god theory? Why would this be any different as far as science is concerned than testing the theory of evolution, for example? The reasons usually stated for god to be outside of the realm of science only apply to a god that doesn't interact with the Universe. And that god doesn't matter. The one that matters does interact, supposedly anyway, with the Universe.

Can you test every single possible life form for a condition of irreducible complexity? Of course not because there are likely life forms in the Universe not on this planet. And we can't test most life forms that have become extinct. But does that lead us to conclude such a topic is outside of the realm of science?

So tell me how that differs from testing for the presence of a god that is interacting with the Universe, even one that interacted in the past? And I do not mean a god that triggered the BB and nothing more, but one who is or has interacted with the Universe in the way most people believe in one form or another.

I'm not saying you can rule out every possibility, but what I am saying is that we have made an arbitrary distinction putting god(s) outside of the realm of science.

Edited by - beskeptigal on 01/13/2006 13:54:59
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2006 :  21:25:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
Referring to the question, "What happened before the big bang?"

quote:
Can any epistemology answer that question? I mean, correctly?



Maybe.

And if any can, it will be science.

One of the hypotheses I have read relating to M-theory suggests that the big bang was actually a collision between two membranes, as opposed having all the matter/energy of the universe compacted into one spot then exploding. The extreme energy release creating the matter/energy of the universe we have now. Before that the hypothesis is that the universe was here, just more or less empty.

Don't ask me to explain the physics of it.... because it is way beyond my understanding.

Will they ever find empirical evidence to support it? I dunno.

Bu it isn't like science has just thrown up its hands and walked away from the question considering it unanswerable, therefore not worth the time to investigate it.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 01/13/2006 :  22:09:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

And I do not mean a god that triggered the BB and nothing more, but one who is or has interacted with the Universe in the way most people believe in one form or another.

I'm not saying you can rule out every possibility, but what I am saying is that we have made an arbitrary distinction putting god(s) outside of the realm of science.
The way you've framed the issue is what's leading you to your conclusion, of course. Given "the way most people believe" god acts, it's pretty easy to look around and say, "nope, none of that sort of god seems to be around."

But then, of course, the believers will say something like, "well, since proof denies faith, God obviously erased His tracks so that you couldn't prove He exists." Of course, that's not a scientific response, but why should we expect a god to behave in a strictly scientific manner? Obviously, if a god is defined in this way - a way which simply defies scientific analysis - then it's not at all arbitrary to say that science can't tell us anything about that particular god.

That is the sticking point we got caught on before, beskeptigal. Your argument is fine for a subset of all possible "god concepts," specifically those which would (for example) leave behind evidence of a global flood. But the Christian God (in particular) "works in mysterious ways" and relies upon the absence of evidence for His existence. That sort of god is defined by most of its proponents as being outside scientific inquiry.

Those proponents who make the mistake of trying to "prove" that their god exists rely upon illogical and unscientific means to do so, offering further evidence that good science can't inform us of its existence. It's not an arbitrary distinction at all.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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