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An Inductive Disproof of the Existence of Deities?


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In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 1:31:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 13, 2012 1:33:38 PM PDT
Daniel Dickson-LaPrade,

What do you think of this argument?
Unobservable: Beyond human senses.
(1) every human society has produced ideas of unobservable things that existed and so on.
(2) each of these ideas of unobservable things they thought existed are equally likely to exist, given the evidence currently available to us.
(3) there is no compelling positive evidence for the existence of ANY of these beings.
(4) Therefore, there does not exist any unobservable things whatsoever.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 12:55:28 PM PDT
Celsus says:
Prometheus Lass

I've begun a thread called "Why Biblegod does not exist" in the Religion forum. Please check it out.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 12:25:12 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 13, 2012 12:29:43 PM PDT]

Posted on Apr 13, 2012 11:49:35 AM PDT
This Mars rock:

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/11/fresh-claim-for-fossil-life-in.html

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 10:22:53 AM PDT
Re Cilantron, above: Basically sound. I don't know what you are referring to as "the Mars rock", so I cannot comment specifically on that -- but tektites have been found on earth which have been identified as coming from the Martian surface [1].

1. Caro, et al, Super-chronditic Sm/Nd ratios in Mars, the Earth, and the Moon. Nature, vol. 452, 20 March 2008, p. 336. The tektites were used to date the formation of all of these bodies to about 4.5 billion years ago. A subsequent paper (Bouvier, 2010) gives the age of the solar system more precisely as 4,568,200,000 years, +/- 0.01%.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 9:28:52 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 13, 2012 9:43:36 AM PDT]

Posted on Apr 13, 2012 8:47:42 AM PDT
"there is no compelling positive evidence for the existence of ANY life anywhere else in the universe"

Given that:

1) We haven't managed to leave our solar system
2) We have received no signals from outside our solar system
3) The "Mars rock" is debatable

the statement "there is no compelling positive evidence for the existence of ANY life anywhere else in the universe" appears to be a true statement at this point in time.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2012 3:46:34 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
Macheath,

To judge by your analogy, I don't think you are understanding the argument. Human beings have constructed tens of thousands of supernatural beings. There is no more evidence for the existence of one of these than for the existence of any of the other of these. Therefore, no supernatural being is any more (or less) likely to exist than, say, leprechauns, fairies, or kachinas.

You seem to be going for some idea that there are an infinite number of possible gods that we have NOT thought of, and that somehow one of THESE must exist. But there are also an infinite number of possible fairy-like things and leprechaun-like things and unicorn-like things, as well--to say nothing of five-pound electrons, aluminum foil which cannot be folded, and telepathic diarrhea. Again, there is not the slightest evidence which would support any of these items over any other of these items: they are all equally likely to exist, given the evidence currently available to us.

Given that life exists on our own planet, I can see no inductive argument worth a damn which would conclude "therefore, there is no compelling positive evidence for the existence of ANY life anywhere else in the universe". My problem is not just that we have no evidence for any supernatural being whatsoever: it's that for any supernatural being which we posit, the evidence for its existence is every bit as strong as the evidence of the existence of voodoo loas, shinto nature-spirits, or dogs which speak perfect Dutch--i.e., nil.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 11:24:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2012 11:26:02 AM PDT
THOTH pbuh says:
Understood - we really do not know nor can we say (with any certainty) until we see evidence of such. However, based on what we do know and can see (life here on earth and the observed physical properties of the universe) one can certainly say that they would expect to see life elsewhere (based on what we do know and understand now). And while we have a baisic perscription for life (as we know it) - we really don't know just how far and wide "life" may cast its net - under what circumstances and how it might evolve to fit them. (true interesting mystries eh? Unlike speculating that one's big toe may be the creator of the universe...why? Well someone suggested it once...and I just believe! ha!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 11:17:49 AM PDT
Re THOTH, and earlier posts, concerning possible alien life: It is clear that there exist a vast number of planets on which life could potentially exist. But, we do not know, within even twenty orders of magnitude, how likely it is for life to appear given suitable conditions. The Drake equation supposes it to be likely, based on the observation that life arose here "relatively soon" after it was possible for it to do so. But how likely is it really?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 11:08:06 AM PDT
Re Cilantron, 4-7 10:32 AM: Good post. My issues: "If you read the Tanakh, information will be conveyed to you." But what is conveyed is NOT information: it does not permit the more accurate prediction of any observable effect.

"they are presenting a theory of God which conveys information." True. But the theory itself does NOT convey information: again, it does not entail observable predictions.

"You can say "if it's not testable or falsifiable, it's not a theory." " Which is exactly the primary requirement for anything claiming to be a scientific theory. Remember: an irrefutable thesis can convey no information. (This apples also to my points above.)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 10:59:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2012 11:02:58 AM PDT
THOTH pbuh says:
Cilantron says: "...they are presenting a theory of God which conveys information. Whether you think they are presented a good theory, a valid theory, or convincing theory is again up to you. "

Entirely unconvinced and see absolutly no reason why I (or any reasonable person) should be.

Consider all of the examples of human proposals for god/gods/dieties and such. How is it that we got so many worng before but now those who live today who claim it is reasonable to believe in such (their claims) say that all of the other proposals are somehow false - but theirs is true. Based on what exactly?

Face it - its nothing more than wishful thinking. And whenever put to the test seems to fail (with other explanations always trumping the god belief version of why things are as they are). Honest believers should admit that they have no basis for their belief but faith...and faith in things that seem to always turn out wrong when critically examined and put to the BS test.

As for other life out there in the universe...well...we know that there is life on earth...and we know that there are (a great many) other suns - and it seems very reasonable to assume that our particular circumstance or such is not entirely unique (given the huge numbers of possibilities out there)...so there at least seems to be a resonable basis to believe in the distinct possibility of other life out there in the universe. There is absolutly no evidence of such things as gods or dieties except in the human immagination and like all of the other great many things that exist only in the immagination there is no basis of assuming any to be true - particularly when lacking any real evidence whatsoever...

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 10:51:25 AM PDT
A Customer says:
The conclusion does not follow from the third premise. It's as obviously flawed as saying;

3) there is no compelling positive evidence for the existence of ANY life anywhere else in the universe.

THEREFORE, there no life exists elsewhere in the universe.

You actually thought this was worth starting a thread over?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 10:38:25 AM PDT
"And then there's the possibility that a deity really does exist, but that somehow no human civilization has ever correctly identified his/her/its true nature."

There you go.

Posted on Apr 7, 2012 10:32:23 AM PDT
Spinoza says:
There is actually excellent evidence of the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, but, like the evidence for the existence of god, it's indirect:

1. The existence of life on this planet. Given similar conditions elsewhere, it's reasonable to conclude that life exists elsewhere.

2. The sheer size of the universe, the sheers number of stars similar to our own Sun, the probability of numerous planets similar to Earth containing liquid water and organic carbon compounds.

The existence of extraterrestrial life is nearly a certainty. There is nothing that would prevent it.

However, the likelihood of a god with all the attributes ascribed to Him by believers - omnipotence, omnipresence, omnibenevolence, a personal interest in particular individual human beings, and non-corporealness - is vanishingly small.

God is just too good to be true. :-))

Posted on Apr 7, 2012 10:32:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2012 10:42:14 AM PDT
I am myself neither Christian nor Jewish. I believe God exists, but if you ask me to provide you with a theory of God that can convey information which I myself believe, I am presently unable to do so. I plead ignorance, I am an ant looking at a human.

I have a friend "Joe" who is Jewish. If you ask him "give me a theory of God which conveys information" he will direct you to the Tanakh and/or the Talmud. He believes the Tanakh to be "true." If you read the Tanakh, information will be conveyed to you. You may choose to believe or disbelieve the information conveyed as you choose.

I have a friend "Bill" who is Christian, yadda yadda Bible yadda yadda.

So, for example, when you say "'God is defined as keeping his promises' This is a claim, not a definition, and as such, groundless." Joe and Bill say "This book says God keeps his promises. We believe this book is true," they are presenting a theory of God which conveys information. Whether you think they are presented a good theory, a valid theory, or convincing theory is again up to you. You can say "if it's not testable or falsifiable, it's not a theory."

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 10:29:40 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
Rubedo says: "There is also no compelling positive evidence for the existence of life elsewhere in the universe right now. Are you ready to say 'THEREFORE, there exists no life out there whatsoever'?"

There is a very big difference here. There are approximately 10 - 100 sextillion stars in the universe, many of which have planetary systems. Even if only one one-billionth of these planetary systems contain life, we're still talking millions of life-harboring solar systems in our universe, at the very least. Add to this the fact that we have not yet been able to INVESTIGATE any of these solar systems, and the question of life on other planets must necessarily remain open.

By contrast, there is no compelling evidence for the existence of Thor, Thoth, leprechauns, Ahriman, kachinas, ancestor-spirits, Allah, unicorns, or any of the hundreds of thousands of other items that exist, so far as we know, only in human stories. Further, each of these seemingly imaginary beings is equally likely to exist--i.e., not very likely at all.

tokolosi: "Stating that all deities are equally probable/improbable isn't a reasonable argument at all."

I would like to hear this argument rebutted. So far I have yet to hear any compelling evidence which says, for example, that Allah is more likely to exist than Ahriman, that Yahveh is more likely to exist than Yggdrasil, or that Jehovah is more likely to exist than Jupiter. True, some gods are not worshiped by human beings anymore, but using that logic, the deity worshiped by the largest number of human beings today must be the real one--Allah, I guess.

And then there's the possibility that a deity really does exist, but that somehow no human civilization has ever correctly identified his/her/its true nature.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 10:23:38 AM PDT
Spinoza says:
tokolosi says:

don't know about you, but I've definitely had diarrhea communicate with me big-time, so that proves it is telepathic....

Spinoza says:

I possess the ability to telepathically induce diarrhea at a distance, so y'all better watch yourselves and not tick me off. ;-)

Which is kind of like a description of the god of the OT, Yahweh, except He can induce far more lethal consequences than diarrhea. Better not tick Him off, either.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 10:04:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 7, 2012 10:05:46 AM PDT
Re Cilantron, 4-7 7:21 AM: "assuming God is as described in the Old and/or New Testaments, which I do not assume..." But that is exactly what you DO assume -- and there are no grounds for doing so. The point is that you CANNOT suppose that a deity has any limitations, even if a deity were actually to claim (by some means) that such existed.

"God is defined as keeping his promises" This is a claim, not a definition, and as such, groundless. Furthermore, there is no means of knowing what "promises" a deity might make. (Unless you can disprove my thesis that "no theory of a god can convey any information.")

"You will now counterargue "a thing can't be partially predictable." Actually, I won't, as there are physical entities which ARE partially predictable. But the actions of a deity are not -- by definition.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 7:23:08 AM PDT
You know, the funny thing about the so-called "God Helmet": Richard Dawkins tried it and it didn't work! Heh, what if the God Helmet doesn't work on atheists? Where does that leave you?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 7:21:22 AM PDT
Robert said: "But you CAN prove that no theory of god can convey any information, so every such theory is useless. A god can, by definition, do whatever it pleases -- meaning that there is no means of determining a rule for its actions as it may please to do anything whatever. And, since predictions MUST be based on (at least) a supposed rule, the actions of a god are entirely unpredictable: there can be no information present."

It is not possible to adequately describe God, correct. This is comparable to an ant trying to figure out a human. A human may step on an ant or not, the ant has no idea why or why not any given ant was stepped on at any given time. The human works in mysterious ways.

If I were Jewish, I would believe that the Tanakh (or "Old Testament") was an attempt to give some kind of description of God. This book would give me some kind of idea of what God would or would not do. It would not be a complete description and could not be used to scientifically predict the behavior of God, but although "a god can, by definition, do what it pleases," the Tanakh gives some indication of what God is likely to do, and why.

For example, Genesis doesn't say "God wiped out the entire human race except for 8 people. We have no idea why. Woe unto us!" It says "people were wicked," plus the sons of God had children with the daughters of men. Hmm, maybe not the best example, but still, after it's done, God promises he'll never do it again, and God is defined as keeping his promises, which should lend towards a certain amount of predictablility. (Now I'm sure you'll go find examples of God breaking His promises.)

If I were Christian, I would then have a description of God presented in the Old and New Testaments, which admittedly would then include more contradictions (eat pork or don't eat pork? Sacrifice animals or not? Polygamy or monogamy?)

So, the upshot is that although the God described in Judaism or Christianity could theoretically do whatever He wants, He does have self-imposed limitations (assuming God is as described in the Old and/or New Testaments, which I do not assume) and is therefore at least partially understandable and predictable. You will now counterargue "a thing can't be partially predictable. It's either predictable or it isn't." Take it up with the ants.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2012 4:30:19 AM PDT
D. S. Clark says:
And I suppose it's just coincidence that regression under hypnosis results in memories of the same thing? Just a brain artifact?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2012 11:03:07 PM PDT
Re Clark, 4-6 8:39 PM: Since NDE's and OBE's are known to be caused by stimulation of a specific area of the brain, and have no supernatural implications whatever, there isn't any evidence to lead anywhere.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2012 10:58:47 PM PDT
Re Celsus, 4-6 1:39 PM: Your argument is valid, and has been made before in a number of places -- none of which I can recall off the top of my head.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2012 10:56:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 6, 2012 11:06:54 PM PDT
Re original post: Interesting idea, but several flaws obtain. Firstly, there are no grounds for supposing that your list of supernatural things are equally likely. Secondly, and far more importantly, you cannot prove ANYTHING with inductive logic: the observation that B follows A, in all of the cases of which you are aware, doesn't prove a causal relationship: it may be that the very next time you see A, you won't find B occurring. Inductive logic is mostly useful for constructing a hypothesis for a relationship -- which may be supported by further evidence. (Or not.)

But you CAN prove that no theory of god can convey any information, so every such theory is useless. A god can, by definition, do whatever it pleases -- meaning that there is no means of determining a rule for its actions as it may please to do anything whatever. And, since predictions MUST be based on (at least) a supposed rule, the actions of a god are entirely unpredictable: there can be no information present.

Arguments such as Russell's teapot, and other such, do well at showing the basic absurdity of believing in the existence of a god. But they do not (and cannot) rule out the possibility. But if belief in a god cannot convey some sort of information, then although a god may actually exist, it is useless to believe in such. Indeed, it is worse than useless: to insert a "goddidit" into any chain of deduction renders the entire chain invalid, meaning that one cannot draw any conclusion from such evidence as may exist.

A poster in another forum, to whom I presented this, supposes that it somehow does not apply to him because he is a Christian. He is wrong.
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