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The God Who Wasn't There.

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posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 12:36 PM
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Originally posted by spamandham

Ok, as long as we're using the same language, there certainly is empirical evidence for the nonexistence of gods.

1. We know that the concept of gods evolved out of using astronomy to determine the seasons. We can trace that history from its primitive origins all the way to modern monotheism.


We do? We can? What evidence leads you to that conclusion?

Religion began, according to archaeological evidence, in prehistoric and precivilized times. I am unaware of any evidence suggesting that our forager/hunter ancestors used astronomy to determine the seasons; that's an art more appropriate to agriculture. Also, while early civilized (not precivilized) deities often included those associated with the sun, and sometimes the moon, the only ones associated with other planets -- the knowledge of which indicates real astronomy -- came from the Chaldeans. And while it is likely that Chaldean religious thought influenced the Jews, and hence indirectly the Christians and Muslims, still there is no sign of astronomical deities in the religion of the early Hebrews. Nor in most other cultures, for that matter. And you're still left with India, China, and the native American religious traditions, none of which included astronomically-based deities (although the Mayas did practice astronomy).

What you're presenting here is pure guesswork, not reason nor evidence. I can present you with another guess, at least as likely to be true: people imagined (and thus created) anthropomorphic deities because a reverence for, and immersion of the self in relation to, the world of nature is a part of who we are. And it is easier to revere and immerse oneself in relation to a being that has humanoid qualities, than a cosmic principle or force of nature.



2. Those who claim gods exist can not provide anything from which to substantiate that claim - meaning they had no rational basis for making the claim in the first place.

3. The word "god" is almost universally undefined.


Can you see the contradiction in those two statements? If the word "god" is undefined, then it cannot be stated with clarity and certainly what is meant by it. Thus it is impossible to know with certainty what WAS meant by it, and so cannot be ascertained whether there was any rational basis for making the claim.

But I agree, the basis for making the claim that deities exist is not rational. Nor is it irrational. It is non-rational, experiential, primal, rather similar to the claim you might make about the emotional impact of something you have seen or heard.

This claim cannot be proven. More than this, unless you have shared the experience leading to it, the claim cannot even be understood. Atheists have an idea in their heads of what "God" means, think that's what religious people mean by it (wrongly), and deny that this turnip ghost exists. They're right. It doesn't. But so what?

Another point. Atheism only seems to arise in the context of authoritarian, dogmatic religions. Hence the focus on Christianity of the movie in question. Authoritarian religions twist the human need for reverence, for self-transcendence, into an instrument furthering the power of the religious institution and its dominant priests. Sacred and unquestioned texts, authoritative dogmas, and one-way intolerance are all means to this end, whereby genuine spirituality is perverted into a tool of the powerful. Atheism arises as a kind of antibody or natural rebellion against this perversion. In that, atheists serve a potentially useful function. Yet they suffer from a tendency to broaden their antagonism to include all religiosity, however innocent of the sins which drew their ire in the first place.

Perhaps a better antibody might be devised?

[edit on 4-1-2006 by Two Steps Forward]




posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 08:19 PM
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Originally posted by spamandham

Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
My use of the word "know" involved empirical evidence.


Ok, as long as we're using the same language, there certainly is empirical evidence for the nonexistence of gods.

1. We know that the concept of gods evolved out of using astronomy to determine the seasons. We can trace that history from its primitive origins all the way to modern monotheism.


First, I'd be interested in some documentation. Since we "know" this to be true, it should be easy to provide.

Second, I don't see how this statement, if true, is pertinent anyway. The manner in which people nominally came to believe that there is/are being(s) that we might legitimately term god(s) has no bearing on whether or not he, she, it or they exist(s) or not.



2. Those who claim gods exist can not provide anything from which to substantiate that claim - meaning they had no rational basis for making the claim in the first place.


You're right-- they don't have any empirical evidence to support their belief that there is/are some manner of being(s) that might legitimately be termed god(s). However, that lack of empirical evidence most certainly does NOT in any way support the contention that there are NOT such beings. The only view that is supported by a lack of evidence is "I don't know."



3. The word "god" is almost universally undefined.


Actually, the word "god" is relatively clearly, if variably, defined. However, I think I understand the point that you're trying to make, as it's one that I've seen before. The thing is that the relatively vague understanding of what might or might not constitute a "god," if such a being exists, in no way argues against such a beings existence. If anything, the more loosely defined a thing is, the MORE likely it is that that thing actually exists.

You might have noticed that I use the phrase "some manner of being(s) that might legitimately be termed god(s)." I do this deliberately because the issue at hand is not whether or not this or that or the other specifically defined "god" might or might not exist, but whether or not, somewhere in this theoretically infinite and poorly understood universe, there might or might not be some manner of being(s) that would fall under the loose heading of "god(s)." That possibility is the one that I cannot discount, and that I believe no rational person can discount.

You have in fact provided no empirical evidence to support the contention that there is/are no god(s).



posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 08:46 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward

Atheism only seems to arise in the context of authoritarian, dogmatic religions... Atheism arises as a kind of antibody or natural rebellion against this perversion. In that, atheists serve a potentially useful function. Yet they suffer from a tendency to broaden their antagonism to include all religiosity, however innocent of the sins which drew their ire in the first place.


Great point well stated.

Atheism-- at least the vocal and antagonistic variety that one so often encounters on message boards, is, I believe, summed up in the word "Nuh-UH!" In the face of the dogma and hidebound certainty of organized religion, the atheist digs his heels in and says, Nuh-UH!" That act of defiance is, in and of itself, almost certainly an admirable thing, but the problem is that, in order to maintain that defiance, many atheists become just as dogmatic and narrow as those they oppose. And not only do they cling rigidly and absolutely to their (unsubstantiated, even if relatively rational) denial of that particular "god" concept, they often seem to entirely close their minds not only to it, but to any and all concepts of some manner of being(s) that might legitimately be termed "god(s)."

When their "no" becomes just as dogmatic and just as absolute as the "yes" that they oppose, they are more like their opposition than they are unlike them.



posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 11:42 PM
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Uhg. I spent 15 minutes on a response to this and my connection went down...sheer brilliance lost forever. Oh well you'll have to make due with this instead.


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
First, I'd be interested in some documentation. Since we "know" this to be true, it should be easy to provide.


Indeed it is easy. First read "The Bible Unearthed:..." by Finkelstein and Silberman, followed by "A history of God" by Karen Armstrong. Both are easy to read for a layman and the combination will give you a good foundation to start from.


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
Second, I don't see how this statement, if true, is pertinent anyway. The manner in which people nominally came to believe that there is/are being(s) that we might legitimately term god(s) has no bearing on whether or not he, she, it or they exist(s) or not.


We are talking about knowledge, not apodictic truth, assuming there were such a thing. Whether god's exist in some sense or not has no bearing on whether it is legitimate to claim knowledge that they don't. All claims of knowledge are contingent (yes, even this one).


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
However, that lack of empirical evidence most certainly does NOT in any way support the contention that there are NOT such beings.


We have agreed that knowledge is a belief that is based on empirical evidence.

Can we agree that empirical evidence is rooted in some form of observations?

If so, can we also agree that conclusions based on observations are necessarily inductive rather than deductive?

If so, can we also agree that inductive logic is based on a premise suggested by those observations, but confirmed by lack of contradictory evidence?

If we agree on these points, then we have the following:

1. The premise behind any knowledge is formed by induction based on observation

2. The confirmation of that knowledge is the lack of contradicting evidence

3. All claims of knowledge necessarily are rooted in the absence of evidence that contradicts the underlying premise

Everything we call knowledge is really just a premise suggested by observation, supported by the lack of conflicting evidence. This is also the scientific method in a nutshell.

I gave you more reasons than are required already to support the claim of knowledge that gods don't exist. All that was necessary was to note that almost all fantastic claims are later shown to be false (the reason for the premise there are no gods), combined with the absence of any conflicting evidence of the nonexistence of gods.


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
Actually, the word "god" is relatively clearly, if variably, defined.


If there is no consistent definition, it can't be clearly defined.


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
If anything, the more loosely defined a thing is, the MORE likely it is that that thing actually exists.


Fine. I'm god. I accept Visa and Mastercard for your tithes.


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
...somewhere in this theoretically infinite and poorly understood universe, there might or might not be some manner of being(s) that would fall under the loose heading of "god(s)." That possibility is the one that I cannot discount, and that I believe no rational person can discount.


Are you saying I can't rationally discount the existence of that which isn't rational? If it can't be defined, it isn't rational. If it is intentionally undefined, you're just playing word games that I'm under no obligation to play.


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
You have in fact provided no empirical evidence to support the contention that there is/are no god(s).


Whether you accept it or not is up to you, but that doesn't change the fact that I presented it, and I accept it. I do not have to present evidence you will accept to make a claim of knowledge, I merely have to have evidence I will accept.

That doesn't mean I have faith for accepting it, it merely means we have different standards of evidence. My standards happen to be consistent with the way courts work, and with the way I address knowledge in all other aspects of my life. That's good enough for me.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 12:48 AM
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Is there life on other planets? Yes or no.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 12:53 AM
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Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
You have in fact provided no empirical evidence to support the contention that there is/are no god(s).


Theists imply that there is a god. Therefore the burden of proof is ultimately upon them since a god is above a zero base of nothing, as I like to call it. The theist's position could be stated as: god > nothing. While this may seem like the 'weenie' way to approach things, to theists mostly, it is pertinent none the less.


Actually, the word "god" is relatively clearly, if variably, defined



Well, you've essentially shot yourself in the foot with that one. Go right ahead and give us a definition for this existent, "god", please. Give us a primary attribute of "god". Everytime I see, or hear, that word if baffles me as to what people are referring.

Once you fail to give "god" a meaning, the concept itself is null and void.


[edit on 1/5/2006 by Obscure]



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 08:24 AM
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Originally posted by Obscure

Theists imply that there is a god. Therefore the burden of proof is ultimately upon them...


Certainly. "There is a god" is a nominal statement of fact, meant to describe an aspect of reality. Anyone who makes such a statement can legitimately be asked to provide empirical evidence to support it, and the failure to provide that empirical evidence implies that the statement is logically invalid. However, "there is no god" is also a nominal statement of fact, and the requirement for proof remains, and the failure to provide that proof has the same consequence.

As a matter of fact, the statement "there is no god" is inherently irrational, since, as atheists are prone to point out, one can't prove a negative. The simple fact that it is exceedingly difficult, and in this case almost certainly impossible, to prove a negative statement such as this means that it is axiomatically logically invalid.



Actually, the word "god" is relatively clearly, if variably, defined


Well, you've essentially shot yourself in the foot with that one. Go right ahead and give us a definition for this existent, "god", please. Give us a primary attribute of "god". Everytime I see, or hear, that word if baffles me as to what people are referring.

You honestly don't know what people mean by the term "god?" I would submit that that makes you unfit to discuss the concept.

For the record, a "god" is any one of a number of theoretical beings or forces that are held to be superior-- intellectually, morally, physically and/or otherwise-- to man, and, by many, to be in some way responsible for, or at least causal to, man's existence and/or the existence of the earth and/or that of the universe.




I would ask of you the same question I asked of spamandham-- is there life on other planets?



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 09:33 AM
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You presuppose far too much without the logic to support it in the your first statement. Judging by that, i'll assume special pleading is your only way to argue on god being an "aspect of reality".


[Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
As a matter of fact, the statement "there is no god" is inherently irrational, since, as atheists are prone to point out, one can't prove a negative. The simple fact that it is exceedingly difficult, and in this case almost certainly impossible, to prove a negative statement such as this means that it is axiomatically logically invalid.


Oh, how I love this one. You have a positive asertion and fail to give us a basis for such. The old "You can't prove that because I have no clue what i'm talking about" approach.

Danny DeVito is not taller than Shaq. There, i've proven a negative just show you are false in saying "you can't prove a negative". Since you're making the assertion of god existing, the evidence provided must be falsifiable to make that statement logical. This is necessary of all assertions proven true. Your statement is illogical, thus nonsensical in critical thought.


Originally posted by Bob LaoTse

You honestly don't know what people mean by the term "god?" I would submit that that makes you unfit to discuss the concept.

For the record, a "god" is any one of a number of theoretical beings or forces that are held to be superior-- intellectually, morally, physically and/or otherwise-- to man, and, by many, to be in some way responsible for, or at least causal to, man's existence and/or the existence of the earth and/or that of the universe.


I'm going to list all of the things you said "god" is:

theoretical being
forces
superior to man -- intellectually, morally, physically and/or otherwise
Creator

theoretical being: means nothing.

forces: what type of forces? where are these forces?

superior to man -- intellectually, morally, physically and/or otherwise: all of these are secondary attributes, i.e. some abilities of this undefined "god".

Creator: this is a relational attribute. Meaning, it describes the claimed existent's relation to man/Earth/the universe.

I've yet to see a primary attribute given.


As to your last question. We at least will have a way to test that question. Eventually we will be able to search other planets when our technology progresses to that extent. And since we will eventually be able to test this, it allows us to speculate on the outcome.

How exactly do you propose we jump out of material reality and search for this "god"? Or this one of the several supernatural adventures we supposedly take after we die?

Where is the evidence? Claiming there is something greater than the material reality leaves you with the job of proving it's there. You've done nothing to do so other than say "it's there".

[edit on 1/5/2006 by Obscure]

[edit on 1/5/2006 by Obscure]



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:55 AM
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Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
Is there life on other planets? Yes or no.


I'm curious about Spam's opinion on this as well. (I'll will send you a U2U this time Spamandham, since we are directly inquiring as to your opinion on this subject, aka "calling you out".)

Just to emphasize upon Spam's perspective:

There is sufficient evidence to support Spam's opinion that astronomy, astrology, and time measurements played a major part in a percieved evolution of a concept of "God". We would be demonstrating ignorance not to acknowledge the supporting evidence throughout cultures in almost all continents.

Although I do acknowledge and often support aspects of Spam's observations, does not always mean i totally agree. But, Spam's arguements are both supported, and his viewpoint is justified with documented history.

However, it is my contention that "God" can only be described in contexts that the observers can relate to. What i mean by this is we are reading/listening to people who had limited points of reference for comparison, and words and concepts that were confined to their personal cultural and social environments. So in this regard their is room for growth and we are referencing the thoughts and experiences that over generations are accumilating.

Knowledge and percieved truths are evolving, but our level of empathy to connect to those who were recording such events, or creating symbolic metaphores to explain intangible concepts is a great part of the equasion. How do we choose to incorporate their documentations made thousands of years ago, and translated through 2 or more languages over the eons?

Fear of God for some ensures we may have accurate translations to a degree, so the truth can not be buried too far under the surface of an english written text translated by groups from one language to another. But, I know most people question their intentions in doing so, which is a difficult thing at times when so little record of their personal exists to this day.

At any rate Spam,

Curious, and i'll offer no ridicule against your opinion, but do you subscribe to the belief we are not alone concerning celestrial neighbors?

Also, have you an opinion (leaning either way) whether we have been visited?

My opinion based upon my personal experiences and studies to date:
I don't think we are alone.
And, I do see evidence throughout cultural societies on almost all continents of "Gods from the heavens".

Since I'm asking your opinion, seems fair to offer mine.

Peace,
John.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 03:32 PM
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Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
Is there life on other planets? Yes or no.


Maybe.

While there is reason to pose the premise (life on earth), there are also contradicting examples (the moon).

Now your turn;

Does Santa Claus exist?



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 03:46 PM
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Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
Also, have you an opinion (leaning either way) whether we have been visited?


I'm not aware of any credible evidence of alien visitations save the possibility that aliens were the source of our own abiogenesis.

The existence of life elsewhere seems likely to be an ordinary claim, but the claim that they visit us and abduct people in ways that sound exactly like night terrors while leaving no trace of it behind is fantastic. Based on that I would say no, we are not being visited in any such manner.

Based on lab experiments and computer models, we think life is virtually guaranteed to spawn itself under the right conditions. The big questions then, are how unique are the right conditions, and given the right conditions, what are the odds intelligent life will form that has both the desire and ability to engage space travel.

I think one day we will be able to predict the probability of life forming under various conditions and will be able to determine the frequency of life on other planets without ever having to have detected it directly. I'm not so sure we'll ever know how likely it is for intelligent life capable of space travel to form unless we have contact with them.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 05:07 PM
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So am I wrong if I don't believe in anything?

I might as well be dead I suppose. But wait, I'm alive, so I have to spend time believing something.

God is love, God unites.

Were you created by love or by hate?



Well I'll go back to believing nothing now, as long as I'm not forcing anything on you I suppose it's ok.




posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 05:11 PM
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Originally posted by spamandham

Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
Is there life on other planets? Yes or no.


Maybe.

While there is reason to pose the premise (life on earth), there are also contradicting examples (the moon).

Now your turn;

Does Santa Claus exist?


Yes, yes he does. I sat on his lap as a child. He gave me presents. Sometimes I questioned why he gave me a pair of socks when all I wanted was a gameboy, but then I realised I had feet and Santa wanted to keep my feet warm.

Do you give presents on Christmas? Or do you just take presents away from people?

*Watches the Grinch*



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 05:18 PM
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spamandham,

Thanks for that well devised and presented opinion. I appreciate the thoughtful response to a perplexing issue.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 05:37 PM
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Originally posted by spamandham
The existence of life elsewhere seems likely to be an ordinary claim, but the claim that they visit us and abduct people in ways that sound exactly like night terrors while leaving no trace of it behind is fantastic. Based on that I would say no, we are not being visited in any such manner.


Looking at both claims (life elsewhere and visitation) without prejudice or preconception, the evidence, while not conclusive for either one, is actually stronger for visitation, since the evidence for visitation is the only evidence we have for life elsewhere, and life on other planets is not the only explanation possible, if visitation is in fact happening.

I'm curious, Spamandham, to hear why you regard visitation as an "extraordinary" claim while life on other planets is ordinary. Granted that we have no solid proof of these claims (and I'm agnostic on the subject myself, never having even seen a UFO), what about them qualifies as "extraordinary" in your view?

This sounds tangential but may have a bearing on the thread topic, since the idea of "gods" is likely lumped in with alien visitation and psychic powers, and actually may belong together with the latter.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 09:09 PM
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Originally posted by Obscure

Danny DeVito is not taller than Shaq. There, i've proven a negative just show you are false in saying "you can't prove a negative".


Actually, that's not the sense in which the idea that "you can't prove a negative" is understood. All you've done here is to substitute a negative synonym for a fairly common and easily measureable descriptor. Logically, "shorter (or the same height)" is the equivalent of "not taller"

In traditional logic, the notion of "proving a negative" involves actually attempting to prove a fully negative statement-- not just a common descriptor phrased in a negative manner. For instance "No cows are blue" would be a negative statement, and would require that one investigate each and every cow in existence and ensure that none of them were anything that might remotely be called blue. Technically this would not be entirely "impossible," but it's close enough so that it's generally referred to as such.

The statement "there is/are no god(s)" is another such negative statement. In order to demonstrate its objective truth, one would have to investigate every possible place that any such being(s) might exist, and make certain that he/she/it/they do NOT in fact exist.

However, I'll certainly accept, for the sake of discussion, your contention that you can prove a negative. The only reason that I introduced the subject is because one of the more common defenses that atheists use to weasel out of their responsibility to provide evidence to support their contention regarding the possibility of the existence of some manner of god(s) is that they can't be expected to support their contention since "you can't prove a negative." And I apologize for presupposing that you were going to haul that one out, and for attempting to deal with it in advance.



Since you're making the assertion of god existing


I've never made that assertion. My only "assertion" is the obvious and straightforward truth-- I don't know. That's it-- that's the extent of my view on the entire question. I don't know.

Actually, I take that back-- that's not my entire view. My entire view is "I don't know and neither does anyone else."



I'm going to pass over your nitpicking of my definition, as it's not pertinent. I am not positing any specific type of being, but rather ONLY the possibility of some manner of being(s) that could legitimately fall into that admittedly large and vague class of beings about which people throughout history have speculated, theorized and fought with each other.

For the record though, I would submit that if it's held to be true that the notion of "god" is so poorly defined as to make any statement regarding his/her/its existence necessarily invalid, then that would hold not only for statements asserting his/her/its existence, but for statements denying it. If one doesn't know what it is that one is discussing, then one CERTAINLY doesn't know that he/she/it either exists or does not exist.




As to your last question. We at least will have a way to test that question. Eventually we will be able to search other planets when our technology progresses to that extent. And since we will eventually be able to test this, it allows us to speculate on the outcome.


You didn't answer the question. Is there life on other planets?



How exactly do you propose we jump out of material reality and search for this "god"?


I don't. I simply maintain that it is illogical to entirely discount the possibility of the existence of some such being(s).



Or this one of the several supernatural adventures we supposedly take after we die?


How should I know? I haven't died, much less died then come back to report on the aftermath.



Where is the evidence? Claiming there is something greater than the material reality leaves you with the job of proving it's there.


That's a fairly good summation of my question, with one alteration:

Where is the evidence? Claiming there is NOT something greater than the material reality leaves you with the job of proving it's NOT there.



You've done nothing to do so other than say "it's there".


No-- you need to go back and actually read what I've written. I have made no claims at all regarding either what is there or what is not there. I have stated more than once that I don't know what is or is not "there." All I've done here is to point out the unsubstantiated condition of the assertion "it's NOT there," and to comment here and there on some of the qualities that I've observed among some of the people who cling to that viewpoint despite the absence of any empirical evidence to support it.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 09:22 PM
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Originally posted by spamandham

Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
Is there life on other planets? Yes or no.


Maybe.



Exactly. In the absence of empirical evidence to support either "yes" or "no" the only logically valid answer is "maybe" or "I don't know."



Now your turn;

Does Santa Claus exist?


Santa Claus, as he is commonly represented, almost certainly does not exist at all, and certainly does not exist within our consensual reality. On the Earth on which I live, and I assume you must live, there is no toy factory at the North Pole, there are no flying reindeer pulling a tiny sleigh, and there's no man shinnying down chimneys all over the world on Christmas Eve to leave presents for all the good girls and boys. There not only is no evidence to support his existence-- there is ample evidence that denies his existence, at least as he is commonly defined.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 10:32 PM
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Originally posted by Bob LaoTse
Exactly. In the absence of empirical evidence to support either "yes" or "no" the only logically valid answer is "maybe" or "I don't know."


I agree. Where we disagree is on what qualifies as empirical evidence. For some reason, even though we have a decent history of the development of the mythology of gods, that doesn't count as empirical evidence that the idea is a fantasy, yet...



Santa Claus, as he is commonly represented, almost certainly does not exist at all, and certainly does not exist within our consensual reality. On the Earth on which I live, and I assume you must live, there is no toy factory at the North Pole, there are no flying reindeer pulling a tiny sleigh, and there's no man shinnying down chimneys all over the world on Christmas Eve to leave presents for all the good girls and boys.


Just because no-one has seen the toy factory or the flying reindeer, or the big man himself is not evidence they don't exist according to the standard you yourself set.

The fact that we have a decent history of the development of the modern concept of Santa is also not empirical evidence that he does not exist according to the standard you set.

The fact that there is no consistent definition for Santa (he differs from culture to culture), is also not any kind of empirical evidence according to the standard you set.

You are compelled by your own standards to say "I don't know" regarding Santa. If you say, "no, santa doesn't exist", it's an act of faith.

Now, let's apply the same argument you used against Santa to another concept. On the earth on which I live gods do not talk to people, nor show themselves in any objective way. There are no people rising from their graves, nor walking on water, nor travelling through the seven heavens in flying chariots. On my earth, people can not make mountains move simply by commanding them. In my universe, gravity is not the force of beating angel wings, the earth is not at the center, and it doesn't have corners. The seasons are caused by the tilt of the planet on my earth rather than by appeasing gods with burnt sacrifices or virgins.

There is no substantial difference between the types or quality of empirical evidence against Santa vs. gods.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:07 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
I'm curious, Spamandham, to hear why you regard visitation as an "extraordinary" claim while life on other planets is ordinary.


Because there is no objective evidence of such visitations. To make such a position hold water, you are compelled to start adding to it to explain how and why they are visiting us without a trace; zoo theories, world-wide coverup theories, etc. These are clearly speculative answers based on nothing but the desire to make the premise less and less testable.

If these guys are visiting us and leaving no trace, then how can people know it in order to make the claim in the first place?

Night terrors, hypnosis, false memories, temporal lobe epilepsy, fallacious conclusions and fraud are all well documented phenomenon that provide an ordinary alternative hypothesis for UFO phenomena (plus visits by gods and demons).


Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
Granted that we have no solid proof of these claims (and I'm agnostic on the subject myself, never having even seen a UFO), what about them qualifies as "extraordinary" in your view?


The claim does not differ in substance from claims about fairies, elves, unicorns, leprechauns and any other host of mythical beings. These are all beyond the ordinary, in that the premises have been intentionally designed to prevent the premise from being tested.

Ordinary claims are testable at least in principle. If a claim can not be tested even in principle, then there was no objective basis for someone to have made it in the first place. Extraordinary claims are those made without any basis, particularly if they deviate from everyday experience.

With that said, I consider the possibility of life on other planets to be an ordinary claim. There is a reason for postulating it as we have direct evidence of life on one planet, and are even starting to understand how it may have started by ordinary organic chemistry.

Uniformity suggests there should be other planets with compositions and histories compatible with similar mechanisms. Combining these tells us that life is a matter of having the proper conditions in place for a sufficient period of time, and given a large enough sample set, the odds of life somewhere in that sample approaches 1. As best we can tell, the sample set is unimaginably large, and we have yet to determine if there is any bound to it at all.

Based on that, this is certainly not an extraordinary claim. If you reject all the built in assumptions, you might arrive at a different conclusion, but the assumption are based on independently acquired objective knowledge. They were not simply invented to try to make the premise hold water.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:39 PM
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Originally posted by spamandham
Because there is no objective evidence of such visitations.


Granted, but there is also no objective evidence of the existence of life on other planets, and you did make a distinction between the two.



To make such a position hold water, you are compelled to start adding to it to explain how and why they are visiting us without a trace; zoo theories, world-wide coverup theories, etc. These are clearly speculative answers based on nothing but the desire to make the premise less and less testable.


Not necessarily. They might instead be fill-in-the-gaps thinking. Say a person has been abducted by aliens, experimented on, and released. He doesn't know why they did it. He doesn't know how they did it, either. Anything he says on those subjects is bound to be wild speculation. But he for sure knows THAT they did it! And he doesn't have to know how or why they did it, to know that they did.



If these guys are visiting us and leaving no trace, then how can people know it in order to make the claim in the first place?


If there are people making the claim, then they are not leaving no trace. As far as leaving no other traces, we are clearly postulating intelligent creatures whose technology is far in advance of our own. Who's to say what they could or could not accomplish?



Night terrors, hypnosis, false memories, temporal lobe epilepsy, fallacious conclusions and fraud are all well documented phenomenon that provide an ordinary alternative hypothesis for UFO phenomena (plus visits by gods and demons).


As I said, I lack firsthand knowledge of UFOs and can't refute what you're saying directly on that score. However, I do not lack firsthand knowledge of mystical experiences, know that "visits by gods" is an inherently misleading phrase that is bound to produce erroneous concepts in the mind of anyone who hasn't had such an experience, and know that none of the things you mentioned can account for it.

As such, I would hesitate to make a similar claim about the UFO abduction experience. You might be right, but it would be arrogant to proceed on that assumption.



The claim does not differ in substance from claims about fairies, elves, unicorns, leprechauns and any other host of mythical beings. These are all beyond the ordinary, in that the premises have been intentionally designed to prevent the premise from being tested.


First of all, that "intentionally designed" business is almost certainly incorrect -- in both categories. Secondly, as UFO denizens are at least believed to be natural in origin, they are clearly not in the same category as fairies, elves, unicorns, or leprechauns, all of which are either supernatural beings, or denizens of a prescientific conception of nature. (Or, to those who actually have knowledge of them, imaginary creatures of significance and power. But even so, I don't think that's how the alleged alien visitors are conceived.)



Ordinary claims are testable at least in principle.


I am claiming, right now, that I ate a breakfast of eggs, soybean chorizo, pickled jalapenos, and tortillas this morning, together with coffee with cream. I don't see any way to test that claim. Yet I suspect you would regard it as ordinary and probably take my word for it.



If a claim can not be tested even in principle, then there was no objective basis for someone to have made it in the first place.


True, but many claims are made on a purely subjective basis. In fact, most of the perfectly ordinary statements we make, e.g. my claim above about this morning's breakfast, have no objective basis. Yet we regard them as entirely ordinary.



With that said, I consider the possibility of life on other planets to be an ordinary claim. There is a reason for postulating it as we have direct evidence of life on one planet, and are even starting to understand how it may have started by ordinary organic chemistry.

Uniformity suggests there should be other planets with compositions and histories compatible with similar mechanisms.


So what you're saying is really this. Although there is no hard, objective evidence for either one, the possibility of life on other planets is something you can accept without challenging any of your previously-held beliefs, while the idea that we are being visited by aliens is not.

And that, I submit, is the real basis for the idea of "extraordinary claims." An extraordinary claim is one that would require me to significantly revise my thinking. An ordinary claim is one that would not.




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