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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  13:43:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter
Is it unreasonable to think that God would ‘cover his tracks?' (Not be detectable by the scientific method.)
No, but it would be unreasonable to believe in such an undetectable god.

If god is defined in such a way as to be indistinguishable from the non-existent, then what reason is there to presume he does exist?


"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
Edited by - H. Humbert on 02/06/2007 13:53:20
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 02/06/2007 :  16:27:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter

So it seems there are varying degrees of atheism. However, belief in souls or pantheism not so much. I think I get the gist of it.


No there are varying degrees of everything. There is more variation on deity belief than atheist positions, but only because there are fewer of us. In reality, everyone believes everything a little bit differently.
quote:

Is it unreasonable to think that God would ‘cover his tracks?' (Not be detectable by the scientific method.)


Only if that deity wants to be discovered by an intelligent creation that can figure out the scientific method. However, if that creater wants to send people to Hell for being intelligent, then no its not unreasonable. God can do whahtever he wants (omnipotent). If he wants people to go to heaven, he can absolutely ensure that, as he is god. He can even do it without breaking free will, because he is god.

quote:

And by a greater explanation, I'll say that I mean one that transcends natural laws. This does not necessarily mean a deity. I hesitate to use supernatural because I don't want to connote magic elves.


Why not? They are exactly the same. Why believe in anything greater? Without such a reason there is no reason to form conjecture and guess about it.
quote:

quote:
originally posted by moakley
There is not much that separates the deities of the widely followed religions from the deities that one could imagine other than the number of people who believe in them.
Yeah, good point. For an atheist, there isn't much difference.


There is no difference at all. Excluding the fact that you specifically choose to believe one over the other. Oh wait... that is exactly the same as Moakley said, oh well.
quote:

quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner
In fact, supposing a god made the universe doesn't answer any questions, but just adds an extra one: What or what made god?
But couldn't the nature of God exempt God from this?



Couldn't the universe be exempt from it also? See you first must start with an axiom "all things are created by a creator." then break it to explain your god as the answer, making it a non-answer.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
Edited by - Neurosis on 02/07/2007 01:20:35
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  01:01:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
Baxter said:
quote:
And by a greater explanation, I'll say that I mean one that transcends natural laws.


So, just gibberish. Thanks for clarifying....


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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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  02:24:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis
quote:
But couldn't the nature of God exempt God from this?



Couldn't the universe be exempt from it also? See you first must start with an axiom "all things are created by a creator." then break it to explain your god as the answer, making it a non-answer.

Baxter, what Neurosis is saying is pretty key.

See, the null hypothesis is always "we don't know." For one to accept god as a rational explanation, it has to minimally be better than "we don't know." For example: "How did the Universe get here? We don't know."

Now, theists are playing a shell game of sorts, simply hiding the "we don't know" behind an assertion that doesn't really answer anything. "How did the Universe get here? God did it!"

Now, at first, that may sound better than the null hypothesis until you dig a little deeper. "Well, how did god create the Universe? We don't know. How did god come into being? We don't know. Well, then how can we begin to prove god did it? We don't know."

So all the theist has really done is assert--without any evidence whatsoever mind you--that his god is responsible for the creation of the Universe (or insert unknown X here). This is called the "god of the gaps," since it is literally substituting the word "god" in any gap in human knowledge, a place which should be occupied by the phrase "we don't know." And since we don't have any evidence for this god existing in the first place, there's no reason to attribute anything to him. It's like settling for an invented answer that doesn't really answer anything.

Atheism isn't about thinking you have all the answers. It's about rejecting non-answers. Saying god might have done this or could have done that is fine to consider philosophically, but without any evidence, it isn't reasonable to then make the leap and believe god did do this or that. It's just an unjustified belief. It isn't any better of an explanation than simply truthfully admitting that we don't 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
Edited by - H. Humbert on 02/07/2007 02:33:06
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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  07:43:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message
quote:
Is it unreasonable to think that God would ‘cover his tracks?' (Not be detectable by the scientific method.)
If God exisits, I cannot fathom why he would hide.
quote:
And by a greater explanation, I'll say that I mean one that transcends natural laws. This does not necessarily mean a deity. I hesitate to use supernatural because I don't want to connote magic elves.
Transcends natural laws is a pretty good definition of supernatural.
quote:
But couldn't the nature of God exempt God from this?
Sure, since none of it can be tested or verified you can make up any rules that you want for your particular God. For instance you could make up a belief where if you fly a plane into a building you will live in paradise with 72 virgins.




If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  08:07:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis
quote:
But couldn't the nature of God exempt God from this?



Couldn't the universe be exempt from it also? See you first must start with an axiom "all things are created by a creator." then break it to explain your god as the answer, making it a non-answer.

Baxter, what Neurosis is saying is pretty key.

See, the null hypothesis is always "we don't know." For one to accept god as a rational explanation, it has to minimally be better than "we don't know." For example: "How did the Universe get here? We don't know."

Now, theists are playing a shell game of sorts, simply hiding the "we don't know" behind an assertion that doesn't really answer anything. "How did the Universe get here? God did it!"

Now, at first, that may sound better than the null hypothesis until you dig a little deeper. "Well, how did god create the Universe? We don't know. How did god come into being? We don't know. Well, then how can we begin to prove god did it? We don't know."

So all the theist has really done is assert--without any evidence whatsoever mind you--that his god is responsible for the creation of the Universe (or insert unknown X here). This is called the "god of the gaps," since it is literally substituting the word "god" in any gap in human knowledge, a place which should be occupied by the phrase "we don't know." And since we don't have any evidence for this god existing in the first place, there's no reason to attribute anything to him. It's like settling for an invented answer that doesn't really answer anything.

Atheism isn't about thinking you have all the answers. It's about rejecting non-answers. Saying god might have done this or could have done that is fine to consider philosophically, but without any evidence, it isn't reasonable to then make the leap and believe god did do this or that. It's just an unjustified belief. It isn't any better of an explanation than simply truthfully admitting that we don't know.





This is an excellent arguement of the issue, well done H.
Edited by - BigPapaSmurf on 02/07/2007 08:08:50
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marfknox
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USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  08:42:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Neurosis wrote:
quote:
However, if that creater wants to send people to Hell for being intelligent, then no its not unreasonable.
I get your gist here and generally agree, but I'd change “intelligent” to “rationlists”. Plenty of highly intelligent people believe in God.

quote:
If he wants people to go to heaven, he can absolutely ensure that, as he is god. He can even do it without breaking free will, because he is god.
Yes! I totally agree! I've tried so many times to raise this point with religious people who believe in a literal “Hell”, but this argument always seems to end in disagreement without understanding on both parts.

Baxter wrote: “And by a greater explanation, I'll say that I mean one that transcends natural laws.”

Dude's response: “So, just gibberish. Thanks for clarifying....”

What he said may not be very clarifying, but it is not “gibberish”. If you don't comprehend all the words in his sentence, you can certainly look them up in a dictionary and figure out the meaning of what he wrote. Among many people is a belief that the universe and the natural laws that govern it are probably not the whole picture of reality. That those things are only the part of reality that humans have access to through our senses and science. It's not totally out of wack to wonder about more out there that is beyond our senses and understanding, especially if you feel something nagging at your intuition constantly which points at some vague “greater explanation”, and you notice that most other humans, too, have similar nagging feelings. Without a complete naturalistic explanation for everything including our nagging feelings and personal spiritual experiences (Yes, I know, people like Daniel Dennet and evolutionary psychologists are working on that problem – but that research is still new and incomplete, so you can't expect the general educated public to embrace it in full just yet) it isn't totally irrational to go with one's gut.

It just gets out of wack to think you have special access to specific knowledge of the divine, and then to go out and be self-righteous and intolerant to others, or to dismiss scientific knowledge, because of what you think you know.

Baxter, I can give you three simple reasons why I am an atheist.

1. Cune wrote:
quote:
But if a god is in effect indistinguishable from the natural world, then what's the use of positing a god in the first place?
These are my sentiments exactly.

2. I don't have any spiritual sense nagging at my intuition, even though I am aware most others do. And lately, new research into evolutionary psychology is even starting to provide a natural and rational explanation for why people have spiritual experiences and beliefs without need for evidence.

3. This one has nothing to do with reason or science. While my life personally is pretty good (I was fortunate enough to be born healthy into a stable and loving middle class American family), life is pretty harsh for most people. Life is pretty harsh for most living things. Competition (both social and evolutionary), genetic disease, environmental changes and disasters – these things plague our existence. And the rest of the universe seems to be mostly a big, unfeeling set of matter just floating around in accordance with arbitrary natural laws. If I try to be objective about it, the universe looks quit

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 02/07/2007 08:47:25
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  11:27:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox

Neurosis wrote:
quote:
However, if that creater wants to send people to Hell for being intelligent, then no its not unreasonable.
I get your gist here and generally agree, but I'd change “intelligent” to “rationlists”. Plenty of highly intelligent people believe in God.


Yes, I should clarify. I don't mean to imply that believers (in anything on faith alone) are inherently unintelligent. I simply mean that a god that creates intelligent man, who will be intelligent enough to think, reason, and use the scientific method cannot expect (especially when he knows how his creation will act with omniscience and without error).

People are victims of 'middle world', term coined by Dawkins. At any moment we can be victims of illusions (both optical and mental). Unlike the god (type) I was criticizing, I do not blame people for their nature. I would not spank a child who does not know right from wrong or fault an engineer for not knowing about ancient Roman government.

The word I used can be misleading, intelligent. Rational probably fits better, but rational means intellectual, so I would rather use intellectual. I would rather use it for emphasis, stressing that it is a more intelligent to use the reason (particularly in the realm of the religious) and that faith is an alternative to intelligent reasoning when all of the data is not in (or even if it is in, sometimes).
quote:

quote:
If he wants people to go to heaven, he can absolutely ensure that, as he is god. He can even do it without breaking free will, because he is god.
Yes! I totally agree! I've tried so many times to raise this point with religious people who believe in a literal “Hell”, but this argument always seems to end in disagreement without understanding on both parts.


Se la débat. I usually just say that "God can do anything right?" They say yes, or if they are smart they say "Anything within his nature." To the second I say "Who created god's nature?" They stumble and just break down into "God is and has always been." And I say well we are back at the start, but now your god has less power. Now your god is as much of a victim of his nature as you are. If god created you and your nature, he is faulting you for something even he cannot rise above (how evil is that)? This will continue so long as they don't run scared and one can systematically break down god until he is as weak as mortal man, or the laws of nature. In a way it is playing their game, getting onto a level playing feild equating nature with god and making him mute. God being mute is why I am an atheist. Sure I am scientific and rational, but I don't believe in god as a matter of function more than fact. God can't be disproven, but he can be proven worthless for worship (at least by all previously suggested definitions).

quote:
Among many people is a belief that the universe and the natural laws that govern it are probably not the whole picture of reality. That those things are only the part of reality that humans have access to through our senses and science. It's not

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
Edited by - Neurosis on 02/07/2007 11:29:45
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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  12:40:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message
quote:
Yes, I should clarify. I don't mean to imply that believers (in anything on faith alone) are inherently unintelligent. I simply mean that a god that creates intelligent man,

Ah, but let us not forget God created man as a simpleton. It was only a talking snake (the cleverest of Gods creation) that convinced man to outsmart God by eating a piece of fruit which gave him knowledge...

How the hell do people actually delude themselves into believing this shit???


If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  13:32:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
marfknox said:
quote:
What he said may not be very clarifying, but it is not “gibberish”.


Yes, it is. He isn't speaking in tounges and rolling on the floor, but his response was gibberish none the less.

When you use terms like "supernatural" or "trancends natural laws", you are using word that have no actual meaning beyond shoddy justification for holding unevidenced beliefs. When you try to apply these words to the real world, you are speaking gibberish.

Obviously there is plenty that we don't know, but so what? It is wrong to create a fantasy and insert it into the gaps in our actual knowledge.

quote:
It's not totally out of wack to wonder about more out there that is beyond our senses and understanding,


Never said it was, as long as you don't think we are not capable of understanding it or puzzling out the answers.

quote:
especially if you feel something nagging at your intuition constantly which points at some vague “greater explanation”, and you notice that most other humans, too, have similar nagging feelings.


Nonsense. Unless you can back your intuition with evidence (it may lead you to the evidence), then you are being irrational. I'll overlook your hasty use of "most other humans" here for now, unless you have some actual evidence that indicates most people have these "feelings"?

quote:
it isn't totally irrational to go with one's gut.



Depends on context and circumstances, but I'd agree with that in general. As long as you don't disregard actual evidence that contradicts your "gut".


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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beskeptigal
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USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  14:00:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Baxter

...Is it unreasonable to think that God would ‘cover his tracks?' (Not be detectable by the scientific method.)
If you go by the religious tenets of known religions it is. No religion claims this is part of the belief. Which religion says their god will hide if you try to prove its existence?


Edited by - beskeptigal on 02/07/2007 14:01:48
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  20:09:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by furshur

quote:
Yes, I should clarify. I don't mean to imply that believers (in anything on faith alone) are inherently unintelligent. I simply mean that a god that creates intelligent man,

Ah, but let us not forget God created man as a simpleton. It was only a talking snake (the cleverest of Gods creation) that convinced man to outsmart God by eating a piece of fruit which gave him knowledge...

How the hell do people actually delude themselves into believing this shit???





Well, as I said I think Satan is the hero of Genesis and the later play Paradise Lost by Milton.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2007 :  21:38:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Dude wrote:
quote:
When you use terms like "supernatural" or "trancends natural laws", you are using word that have no actual meaning beyond shoddy justification for holding unevidenced beliefs.


“supernatural” and “transcends natural laws” are not justification. They are descriptions. And they do have useful meanings. That would be why they are in the dictionary and are used so frequently in conversations.

quote:
It is wrong to create a fantasy and insert it into the gaps in our actual knowledge.
No religious person is claiming to “create” a fantasy. They claim a perception. You are now the one pushing your interpretation of the religious experience onto religious people.


quote:
Never said it was, as long as you don't think we are not capable of understanding it or puzzling out the answers.
First of all, it is perfectly possible that humans are not capable of understanding or puzzling out all of the answers to the universe. This is certainly a reasonable possibility under both the atheistic worldview (because in that scenario we humans are tiny specks in a vast, ancient, and complex system that most of us can't even understand the natural laws of – I speak here of quantum physics.) and religious worldviews.

It is also an almost certain that the literal “we” of you and I and Baxter and anyone else alive right now will die before any human understands everything about the universe. We don't have much more of a chance of understanding everything before we die than cavemen or the ancient Greeks did. Given how much is still a mystery, I don't see how it is relevant at this stage to claim one way or another for sure whether humans can or will ever understand everything.

quote:
Nonsense.
It isn't “nonsense”. Stop abusing terms such as “gibberish” and “nonsense”. What you mean is that you disagree. But what I've said and what Baxter's said does in fact make sense. Making sense and being right are not the same things.

quote:
Unless you can back your intuition with evidence (it may lead you to the evidence), then you are being irrational.
You also wrote:
quote:
Depends on context and circumstances, but I'd agree with that in general.
See any contradictions here?

quote:
As long as you don't disregard actual evidence that contradicts your "gut".
Yeah, I covered that when I wrote this (emphasis in bold):
quote:
It just gets out of wack to think you have special access to specific knowledge of the divine, and then to go out and be self-righteous and intolerant to others, or to

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 02/07/2007 21:40:22
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2007 :  02:03:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
marfknox said:
quote:
No religious person is claiming to “create” a fantasy. They claim a perception.


A perception of a thing that cannot be independently verified (shown to be real via evidence) is, by definition, a delusion. While religious people certainly do not claim to be creating a fantasy, it is in fact what they are doing.

quote:
“supernatural” and “transcends natural laws” are not justification. They are descriptions. And they do have useful meanings. That would be why they are in the dictionary and are used so frequently in conversations.



Give me one real thing in which "supernatural" is a legitimate descriptor.

Elves, hobbits, dragons, faries, ghosts, (I could go on for pages) are ALL in the dictionary and used frequently in converstions.... Do you also claim that these things are usefull or meaningfull in any way outside the context of the fantasy they exist in?

quote:
First of all, it is perfectly possible that humans are not capable of understanding or puzzling out all of the answers to the universe.


Who said that wasn't a possibility? I certainly didn't. I guess I'll have to, once again, use more simplistic sentences and make sure to sppecifically state everything and not leave the obvious implications to the chance that you will fail to comprehend them.

Your statement:
quote:
It's not totally out of wack to wonder about more out there that is beyond our senses and understanding,


My response:
quote:
Never said it was, as long as you don't think we are not capable of understanding it or puzzling out the answers.



Let me simplify:

Sure. Universe big. People dumb. People ignorant. People can't see everything. But people curious. People want to know. Wrong to say for sure we can't know.

When you claim, at the outset, that you can't know the answer to something you are guilty of one of the same things the fundy morons do when they say we "can't" understand their god.

quote:
It is also an almost certain that the literal “we” of you and I and Baxter and anyone else alive right now will die before any human understands everything about the universe. We don't have much more of a chance of understanding everything before we die than cavemen or the ancient Greeks did.


So what?

quote:
Given how much is still a mystery, I don't see how it is relevant at this stage to claim one way or another for sure whether humans can or will ever understand everything.



It is relevant because you don't know if you are capable of understanding a thing until you try. It is wrong to let your personal bias be in charge of deciding what you can and can't understand. If yo

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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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2007 :  02:31:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
Interjecting into Marf's and Dude's discussion.


Gibberish: unintelligible talking.

Supernatural: not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws.

Is supernatural gibberish? No. Is it a useful term? No. It means literally everything that is not under natural law. This is exactly the same as if I invented a word Hjek in referece to height which means not 5 feet. If I then said that a building is Hjek, I have said only that it is not five feet tall. Nearly unusable information, but information none the less.

The term supernatural is the same. It is not edifying to use the term in a description. There is no reason to accept such a description as anything more than gibberish (Dude's point of view), but it does inform of something (Marf's point of view) no matter how useless. Like knowing the belt size of the man you are interviewing for a job. Or for the Allies to know the name of Hitler's first grade teacher.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
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