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Do physicists believe in God?

Do physicists believe in God?

(4:50) Scientists at the University of Nottingham answer questions about God and astronomical features. youtube.com/user/sixtysymbols

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (81 days ago)

Continued from "As a scientists..." LINK

---------

It's time to get the drugs out. I'm trying to narrow down the space your god inhabits. If you'd rather use the term "identified", that's fine, but I'd need to add a third option - unidentifiable - so we have identified, unidentified and unidentifiable unknowables.

Just waiting for the drugs to kick in.

An unidentifiable unknowable is one we can't even imagine - like the stockmarket is to a cat. We know there are a lot (infinite?) things a cat can't imagine, and since a cat is only a few evolutionary steps behind us, I think it is reasonable to assume that there are a lot (infinite?) things humans can't imagine.

You have limited your god to an "identified unknowable". Why?

-----

OK, drugs have worn off. To the question of my passive lack of belief. I have a true passive lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster. If a small proportion of Loch Nessians tried to teach Nessology in science class, or randomly murder non-Nessians, then my passive lack of belief becomes an interest because I'm interested in what's going on in the world - like climate change, politics, science and religion.

You say I don't care for the term hard atheist. Like your favourite agnostic NDT, I don't care for labels. You love labels. You even tried to get me to label another BoreMe member as a racist.

Original comment

Continued from "As a scientists..." LINK

---------

It's time to get the drugs out. I'm trying to narrow down the space your god inhabits. If you'd rather use the term "identified", that's fine, but I'd need to add a third option - unidentifiable - so we have identified, unidentified and unidentifiable unknowables.

Just waiting for the drugs to kick in.

An unidentifiable unknowable is one we can't even imagine - like the stockmarket is to a cat. We know there are a lot (infinite?) things a cat can't imagine, and since a cat is only a few evolutionary steps behind us, I think it is reasonable to assume that there are a lot (infinite?) things humans can't imagine.

You have limited your god to an "identified unknowable". Why?

-----

OK, drugs have worn off. To the question of my passive lack of belief. I have a true passive lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster. If a small proportion of Loch Nessians tried to teach Nessology in science class, or randomly murder non-Nessians, then my passive lack of belief becomes an interest because I'm interested in what's going on in the world - like climate change, politics, science and religion.

You say I don't care for the term hard atheist. Like your favourite agnostic NDT, I don't care for labels. You love labels. You even tried to get me to label another BoreMe member as a racist.

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Guest: P (80 days ago)

In this context, identifiable just means we have some name for it - 'the unobservable universe', 'inifinity', 'god' - they are all identified and identifiable in that we can give it a name, but that doesn't suggest they are known or knowable or even imaginable. Added to this, (with my ignostic hat on), the term 'god' is so broad it necessarily includes (if not entails) the unimaginable. The fact it has a word doesn't limit it in any way.

Original comment

In this context, identifiable just means we have some name for it - 'the unobservable universe', 'inifinity', 'god' - they are all identified and identifiable in that we can give it a name, but that doesn't suggest they are known or knowable or even imaginable. Added to this, (with my ignostic hat on), the term 'god' is so broad it necessarily includes (if not entails) the unimaginable. The fact it has a word doesn't limit it in any way.

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Guest: P (80 days ago)

...You don't care for labels! Oh Walt. Is this like another ironic "Judge less, understand more" thing that you're aspiring to? From a selection of your history: "Religious parents", "experts", "socialists", "right wing", "conspiracy theorists", "SJWs", "libertarians", "corporatists", "deniers", "laissez faire capitalists"... Redefine 'label' for me. Yes, I do remember you squirming to avoid the admission that 'sand monkey' is racist. In fact, you heroically protected that sort of terminology by using the label "political correctness". Face-palm. I wish you hadn't reminded me...

Original comment

...You don't care for labels! Oh Walt. Is this like another ironic "Judge less, understand more" thing that you're aspiring to? From a selection of your history: "Religious parents", "experts", "socialists", "right wing", "conspiracy theorists", "SJWs", "libertarians", "corporatists", "deniers", "laissez faire capitalists"... Redefine 'label' for me. Yes, I do remember you squirming to avoid the admission that 'sand monkey' is racist. In fact, you heroically protected that sort of terminology by using the label "political correctness". Face-palm. I wish you hadn't reminded me...

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Guest: P (80 days ago)

As far as I'm concerned, labels are a useful shorthand so long as you don't redefine them to suit your agenda, eg, while I don't have a belief in any god, using the shorthand 'atheist' wouldn't work for me, as it doesn't convey my beliefs of a godless universe. NDT doesn't like labels because he doesn't like people assuming his behaviour fits with others of that label. That makes sense, but in your case, your attitudes seem to absolutely typify those of a hard atheist. Even if you don't like labels, you still have yet to demonstrate why the hard atheist shoe doesn't fit. With your Loch Ness talk, you now seem to be engaged in hard atheist apologetics - justifying an active stance, after seemingly denying that you have one.

Original comment

As far as I'm concerned, labels are a useful shorthand so long as you don't redefine them to suit your agenda, eg, while I don't have a belief in any god, using the shorthand 'atheist' wouldn't work for me, as it doesn't convey my beliefs of a godless universe. NDT doesn't like labels because he doesn't like people assuming his behaviour fits with others of that label. That makes sense, but in your case, your attitudes seem to absolutely typify those of a hard atheist. Even if you don't like labels, you still have yet to demonstrate why the hard atheist shoe doesn't fit. With your Loch Ness talk, you now seem to be engaged in hard atheist apologetics - justifying an active stance, after seemingly denying that you have one.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (80 days ago)

I'm just trying to clarify your position. Are these bullet points fair?

1. Your god is unknowable today, but may become knowable in the future. It could also be unimaginable.

2. There's only one of them.

Original comment

I'm just trying to clarify your position. Are these bullet points fair?

1. Your god is unknowable today, but may become knowable in the future. It could also be unimaginable.

2. There's only one of them.

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Guest: P (80 days ago)

Not really. Your black-and-white brain is struggling with grey agnosticism.

I have a slightly greater belief in some sort of god existing in some form, than the universe being entirely godless. That's not the same thing as 'having a god'. I don't believe in any particular conception(s), so constantly referring to 'my god', asking about its nature, or how many of them there are, is hopelessly confused.

Due to the semantics of the term 'god', I don't believe such a thing can be completely knowable to a human, or completely imaginable, but I doubt it's logically impossible for a deity to become knowable to some degree in the future and I wouldn't claim there is no hypothetical situation that could change me from agnosticism. I follow the evidence, but unlike most hard atheists, I don't go beyond it.

Let's pretend you don't like labels - do you at least see why if you did like labels, you could meaningfully describe yourself as a hard atheist without anyone getting the wrong idea?

Original comment

Not really. Your black-and-white brain is struggling with grey agnosticism.

I have a slightly greater belief in some sort of god existing in some form, than the universe being entirely godless. That's not the same thing as 'having a god'. I don't believe in any particular conception(s), so constantly referring to 'my god', asking about its nature, or how many of them there are, is hopelessly confused.

Due to the semantics of the term 'god', I don't believe such a thing can be completely knowable to a human, or completely imaginable, but I doubt it's logically impossible for a deity to become knowable to some degree in the future and I wouldn't claim there is no hypothetical situation that could change me from agnosticism. I follow the evidence, but unlike most hard atheists, I don't go beyond it.

Let's pretend you don't like labels - do you at least see why if you did like labels, you could meaningfully describe yourself as a hard atheist without anyone getting the wrong idea?

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (78 days ago)

I am certainly struggling with your grey agnosticism. You don't believe in any conception of god - but you have your own conception of god, which you have a greater belief in than not. I'm not sure if that's just arrogance, illogical, both, or grey agnosticism. Help me out.

Why do you have a slightly greater belief in some sort of god than not? Why not a slightly greater belief in no god?

We don't need to pretend that I don't like labels. Sure I use labels all the time - that's called communication - but you are obsessed with labelling people. That's fine, go ahead - I really don't mind. Just be aware that labels are heavily susceptible to thought illusions. When you're trying to distil the essence of someone you know very little about, you're bound to base it on your prejudices. Don't worry, we all do that. Best avoid labelling people in the first place.

About the label "hard atheist". I thought the term atheist was something to do with not having a belief in god, so hard atheist would be someone with a high confidence that god does not exist, and a soft atheist would have less confidence. Under that definition, I'm a hard atheist. But atheist seems to have evolved into "anti-religious activism". In that case I'd describe myself as a soft atheist. I just can't see what I write on BoreMe as activism, I'm just interested in what goes on. But hey, if that's all it takes to be an activist...

Original comment

I am certainly struggling with your grey agnosticism. You don't believe in any conception of god - but you have your own conception of god, which you have a greater belief in than not. I'm not sure if that's just arrogance, illogical, both, or grey agnosticism. Help me out.

Why do you have a slightly greater belief in some sort of god than not? Why not a slightly greater belief in no god?

We don't need to pretend that I don't like labels. Sure I use labels all the time - that's called communication - but you are obsessed with labelling people. That's fine, go ahead - I really don't mind. Just be aware that labels are heavily susceptible to thought illusions. When you're trying to distil the essence of someone you know very little about, you're bound to base it on your prejudices. Don't worry, we all do that. Best avoid labelling people in the first place.

About the label "hard atheist". I thought the term atheist was something to do with not having a belief in god, so hard atheist would be someone with a high confidence that god does not exist, and a soft atheist would have less confidence. Under that definition, I'm a hard atheist. But atheist seems to have evolved into "anti-religious activism". In that case I'd describe myself as a soft atheist. I just can't see what I write on BoreMe as activism, I'm just interested in what goes on. But hey, if that's all it takes to be an activist...

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Guest: P (78 days ago)

Where have I said I have any particular conception of god? Your sloppy maths is at work again. If I had to choose (in order to fit into Walt's B&W world), I would say I have a stronger belief that there is SOME conception of a god that exists in some way rather than none. Similarly, I can believe there is some sort sort of life somewhere else, but not have a specific conception about what type of life it is. Grey, not black and white.

For me, arrogance is accepting that some things can't be known and yet still making openly partisan statements and roundly condemning anyone that disagrees. That's why fundamentalist religion and your brand of atheism doesn't float my boat. It's hardly arrogant to say 'maybe any one of you is correct' - if you're really agnostic(!), try it sometime (in between your sanctimonious rants).

OK, so you don't understand the terms hard and soft atheism; that figures. It isn't about confidence at all. You can be a confident or less confident soft or hard atheist. I repeat, having active beliefs doesn't make you an activist, but it does stop you being a soft atheist. My point is simply that despite what you've said in the past, your type of atheism is not a simple, passive lack of belief. It is a set of active beliefs, assertions, and attitudes - a belief set no less.

Original comment

Where have I said I have any particular conception of god? Your sloppy maths is at work again. If I had to choose (in order to fit into Walt's B&W world), I would say I have a stronger belief that there is SOME conception of a god that exists in some way rather than none. Similarly, I can believe there is some sort sort of life somewhere else, but not have a specific conception about what type of life it is. Grey, not black and white.

For me, arrogance is accepting that some things can't be known and yet still making openly partisan statements and roundly condemning anyone that disagrees. That's why fundamentalist religion and your brand of atheism doesn't float my boat. It's hardly arrogant to say 'maybe any one of you is correct' - if you're really agnostic(!), try it sometime (in between your sanctimonious rants).

OK, so you don't understand the terms hard and soft atheism; that figures. It isn't about confidence at all. You can be a confident or less confident soft or hard atheist. I repeat, having active beliefs doesn't make you an activist, but it does stop you being a soft atheist. My point is simply that despite what you've said in the past, your type of atheism is not a simple, passive lack of belief. It is a set of active beliefs, assertions, and attitudes - a belief set no less.

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Guest: P (78 days ago)

Fine, I won't pretend you dislike labels. Best not to use them? You clearly use them far more often than I do, and far more arbritrarily (your use of PC is a great example), but wonderful ironic advice - perhaps you will consider it when flinging around your personal judgements about 'SJWs'(!), 'trolls', 'capitalists', 'religious parents', 'losers', 'retards' etc. etc. etc. Thought illusions, indeed - you really are your own worst enemy, Walt... you swallow all this rhetoric that you think sounds smart, without ever checking if it might apply to you. Meanwhile, if I try and compare you to just two established definitions of atheist and agnostic, or suggest it might be racist to call people 'sand monkeys' (surely not!), you pretend you hate labels and that I'm obsessed with them! Silly and more than a touch hypocritical. Anyway, I've known for a while you're a bit like that, so I won't labour the point. Just be brave and try to follow your own advice for once. I dare you. Judge less, understand more.

Original comment

Fine, I won't pretend you dislike labels. Best not to use them? You clearly use them far more often than I do, and far more arbritrarily (your use of PC is a great example), but wonderful ironic advice - perhaps you will consider it when flinging around your personal judgements about 'SJWs'(!), 'trolls', 'capitalists', 'religious parents', 'losers', 'retards' etc. etc. etc. Thought illusions, indeed - you really are your own worst enemy, Walt... you swallow all this rhetoric that you think sounds smart, without ever checking if it might apply to you. Meanwhile, if I try and compare you to just two established definitions of atheist and agnostic, or suggest it might be racist to call people 'sand monkeys' (surely not!), you pretend you hate labels and that I'm obsessed with them! Silly and more than a touch hypocritical. Anyway, I've known for a while you're a bit like that, so I won't labour the point. Just be brave and try to follow your own advice for once. I dare you. Judge less, understand more.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (78 days ago)

You keep avoiding my question. I'm asking WHY you have a stronger belief that there is some conception of a god that exists in some way rather than none. What sways you towards a universe with god rather than without?

Original comment

You keep avoiding my question. I'm asking WHY you have a stronger belief that there is some conception of a god that exists in some way rather than none. What sways you towards a universe with god rather than without?

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Guest: P (77 days ago)

Keep avoiding your question? Do you mean you asked once and I ignored it once, in the same way you have ignored me asking where I had said I have a certain conception of a god? I ignored it because you're failing to even understand my position, let alone why I have it. If you think I have a conception of god or have 'my god', I recommend you try to fathom my actual position first.

I'm an agnostic, so I don't really need to guess. My honest answer is 'I don't know '; nothing beyond that. I only explained I have a marginally greater belief in SOME sort of god existing rather than none, in order to demonstrate why the views of an agnostic cannot be adequately described as atheism...

Original comment

Keep avoiding your question? Do you mean you asked once and I ignored it once, in the same way you have ignored me asking where I had said I have a certain conception of a god? I ignored it because you're failing to even understand my position, let alone why I have it. If you think I have a conception of god or have 'my god', I recommend you try to fathom my actual position first.

I'm an agnostic, so I don't really need to guess. My honest answer is 'I don't know '; nothing beyond that. I only explained I have a marginally greater belief in SOME sort of god existing rather than none, in order to demonstrate why the views of an agnostic cannot be adequately described as atheism...

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Guest: P (77 days ago)

... However, if you insist on us guessing whether a god exists, I start by noting the definition of such a thing is very broad. I also note that we understand a fraction of what is in front of us, and practically speaking there is an infinite amount of space in our universe (let's not get started on different dimensions). Added to this, much of what we have discovered about quantum science defies classical explanations and shows parallels with what could be called religious or supernatural phenomena. None of this is enough for me to have a strong belief, so I don't.

But do I find it plausible that despite a near infinite set of possibilities, there is nothing that could be described as a god, no superhuman being with power over nature, no pantheistic totality that could carry such a label, anywhere in the universe in any form? Well it's possible there really is nothing, (I'm enough of an agnostic to say I'm uncommitted to either idea), but on balance (to fit in your black-and-white world) I'd say I find it slightly less plausible.

Original comment

... However, if you insist on us guessing whether a god exists, I start by noting the definition of such a thing is very broad. I also note that we understand a fraction of what is in front of us, and practically speaking there is an infinite amount of space in our universe (let's not get started on different dimensions). Added to this, much of what we have discovered about quantum science defies classical explanations and shows parallels with what could be called religious or supernatural phenomena. None of this is enough for me to have a strong belief, so I don't.

But do I find it plausible that despite a near infinite set of possibilities, there is nothing that could be described as a god, no superhuman being with power over nature, no pantheistic totality that could carry such a label, anywhere in the universe in any form? Well it's possible there really is nothing, (I'm enough of an agnostic to say I'm uncommitted to either idea), but on balance (to fit in your black-and-white world) I'd say I find it slightly less plausible.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (75 days ago)

You asked "where have I said I have any particular conception of god?" I didn't say that. I said you have your own conception of god. Your conception of god is particular to you. It's your idea that religious people are all describing the same god but have got details wrong on an epic scale. A+ for effort, D- for results. That's not a Christian's conception of god, or a Hindu's, or anyone else's except by coincidence - it's your conception.

"... much of what we have discovered about quantum science defies classical explanations and shows parallels with what could be called religious or supernatural phenomena." So it's the "god of the gaps" argument that sways you. I never thought you'd stoop so low. For those who don't know, that is when god is the explanation for gaps in our knowledge. So in this case, quantum weirdness is so weird, maybe it is religious or supernatural. Yeah, maybe the stockmarket is so weird to a cat it's religious or supernatural.

Here are 3 reasons why I'm swayed towards a godless universe. In no particular order:

1. So far, there is no reason to conclude that any gap in our knowledge is best explained by god, not even quantum weirdness, other dimensions, infinity etc. Seems to me quantum weirdness is humans reaching human limits. If humans have limits, then we would expect that as we try to make sense of everything, sense itself will break down at some point. I'll remind you of the cat and the stockmarket.

2. Religion can be credibly explained in evolutionary terms. Many studies support this, and if you understand what drives natural selection, it's hard to imagine how artificial gods would not become a thing.

3. There is no evidence of god. 'No evidence of god' is NOT proof of no god, but it IS a requirement for a godless universe. So that's one essential box ticked (which would be instantly unticked in the advent of evidence). That's what being driven by evidence means. Evidence drives my belief. No evidence means I have no belief because there's nothing to base the belief on.

So to sum up, you are swayed towards a universe with god because quantum weirdness could look a bit like religious or supernatural phenomena; I am swayed towards a godless universe because there's no evidence of god, no need for god to explain anything, and credible theories that explain why we have gods. I'm sticking with my position until evidence forces me to change. You can weasel around with words to try to make your position not sound like "god of the gaps". It'll be difficult, but I'm confident you'll find a way.

Original comment

You asked "where have I said I have any particular conception of god?" I didn't say that. I said you have your own conception of god. Your conception of god is particular to you. It's your idea that religious people are all describing the same god but have got details wrong on an epic scale. A+ for effort, D- for results. That's not a Christian's conception of god, or a Hindu's, or anyone else's except by coincidence - it's your conception.

"... much of what we have discovered about quantum science defies classical explanations and shows parallels with what could be called religious or supernatural phenomena." So it's the "god of the gaps" argument that sways you. I never thought you'd stoop so low. For those who don't know, that is when god is the explanation for gaps in our knowledge. So in this case, quantum weirdness is so weird, maybe it is religious or supernatural. Yeah, maybe the stockmarket is so weird to a cat it's religious or supernatural.

Here are 3 reasons why I'm swayed towards a godless universe. In no particular order:

1. So far, there is no reason to conclude that any gap in our knowledge is best explained by god, not even quantum weirdness, other dimensions, infinity etc. Seems to me quantum weirdness is humans reaching human limits. If humans have limits, then we would expect that as we try to make sense of everything, sense itself will break down at some point. I'll remind you of the cat and the stockmarket.

2. Religion can be credibly explained in evolutionary terms. Many studies support this, and if you understand what drives natural selection, it's hard to imagine how artificial gods would not become a thing.

3. There is no evidence of god. 'No evidence of god' is NOT proof of no god, but it IS a requirement for a godless universe. So that's one essential box ticked (which would be instantly unticked in the advent of evidence). That's what being driven by evidence means. Evidence drives my belief. No evidence means I have no belief because there's nothing to base the belief on.

So to sum up, you are swayed towards a universe with god because quantum weirdness could look a bit like religious or supernatural phenomena; I am swayed towards a godless universe because there's no evidence of god, no need for god to explain anything, and credible theories that explain why we have gods. I'm sticking with my position until evidence forces me to change. You can weasel around with words to try to make your position not sound like "god of the gaps". It'll be difficult, but I'm confident you'll find a way.

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Guest: P (73 days ago)

You’re confident I’ll find a way to "weasel around with words". Aha, the open-minded stance of someone ready to listen and engage; to understand and not judge!

“Your own conception of god” / your “conception of god is particular to you”: synonymous and incorrect. A lack of my own conception means I allow for other conceptions without having my own. [Some people might say there’s only microbial life in galaxy GNZ11, some people might say there’s biped lifeforms – if I say I don’t know but I believe there’s life, that wouldn’t be a separate conception of what the life is. See?]

Strawman time again: ‘God of the gaps’… nowhere have I used god as an explanatory principle. Sloppy. Quantum theory isn’t necessarily explained by a god, but it does suggest PARALLEL ways (did you miss that word?) in which such a thing could act. To use your reasoning, a way in which a god could act isn’t PROOF of a god, but it would be a requirement for a universe with a god. Tick.

There COULD be a god of the gaps in so far as aliens are ‘aliens of a gap’ (they don’t explain anything yet, but if they exist they occupy a current gap in our knowledge). I also believe there COULD be a god that is immanent in what we experience; or a god that operates on a quantum level; or a god that is best described in pantheistic terms etc. etc.; or there COULD be no god whatsoever. ‘God of gaps’ you say, hopefully? Pitiful… it’s like you have the ‘Atheists’ Bible ’ in front of you and you don’t have the imagination to challenge my actual beliefs. Try harder (Ungraded).

And as you so generously chose to bestow upon me your reasons for your faith (though I’m pretty sure I didn’t ask), you really ought to have chosen better:

1) Though you’re inviting the converse fallacy, I agree the assumption of god doesn’t seem currently necessary as an explanatory principle (nor the assumption of no-god), but for a wannabe pragmatist, it’s a weirdly solipsistic view of ontology as regards non-scientific assertions (not even IBE covers that). I still wish you’d read some Gould.

2) Jesus wept (pun intended). Religion is not theism ; lack of religion is not atheism. This is a face-punchingly obvious distinction that baffles you. Any assumption, observation, criticism, or complement of religion has nothing to do with whether some sort of god could exist. To use your reasoning, a credible explanation for our conception of god is not a REQUIREMENT for a godless universe. Be consistent at least.

3) Evidence… here we go round the mulberry bush. It’s a clincher though, so frankly you can ignore everything else and focus on this. (Grab a coffee instead of a spliff; it may serve you better).

The rational, logical, evidence-based stance is this:

- If God-X is a god that leaves evidence-X (evidence we know how to find), AND he is in location-Y (where we’re looking), THEN evidence-X is also in location-Y
- Evidence-X is not in location-Y.
- Therefore God-X is not in location-Y.

Perfect, simple, and valid. Uncontroversial, in fact. It’s maths. Notice it contains no leap of logic about any other god that might leave any other type of evidence at any other location, and no converse fallacy. Walter, meet logic (don’t think you’ve met) – it’ll take you as far as the evidence but no further. This isn’t wordplay - this is cold hard rationality; the backbone of science, (I can give it to you in propositional logic if you want, but then you’d get defensive and start whining about the honest pub vernacular).

To sum up - I don’t know and that’s enough. You and the religious are the ones who likes to play guessing games about speculations. If forced, then yes I’m marginally swayed towards a universe with some sort of god because there’s an infinite number of possibilities and an infinite amount of opportunity but I don’t go beyond the evidence (insofar as it helps) - I don’t feel the need to have myself validated as part of a movement, or soak up doctrine, dogma and pre-packaged arguments. Not knowing is fine.

Meanwhile, you're so eager to espouse your hard atheism you will pretty much pretend an agnostic is a fervent believer in god just for a chance to share the reasons for your own faith! And why atheism? Maybe because it’s dressed in words that appeal to your ego; because you like your speculation more than anyone else’s; because you have a fundamental confusion about the nature of science, logic, atheism, and agnosticism; but ultimately (here’s the rub) because you have deep-seated long-standing emotional issues with religion that you conflate with theism. That last point is really the be-all and end-all, and the only thing about your faith that interests me.

Sometimes, being on the fence is the most rational place to be. It means you judge less, and understand more. When WalterEgo loses his Ego, he might join me.

Original comment

You’re confident I’ll find a way to "weasel around with words". Aha, the open-minded stance of someone ready to listen and engage; to understand and not judge!

“Your own conception of god” / your “conception of god is particular to you”: synonymous and incorrect. A lack of my own conception means I allow for other conceptions without having my own. [Some people might say there’s only microbial life in galaxy GNZ11, some people might say there’s biped lifeforms – if I say I don’t know but I believe there’s life, that wouldn’t be a separate conception of what the life is. See?]

Strawman time again: ‘God of the gaps’… nowhere have I used god as an explanatory principle. Sloppy. Quantum theory isn’t necessarily explained by a god, but it does suggest PARALLEL ways (did you miss that word?) in which such a thing could act. To use your reasoning, a way in which a god could act isn’t PROOF of a god, but it would be a requirement for a universe with a god. Tick.

There COULD be a god of the gaps in so far as aliens are ‘aliens of a gap’ (they don’t explain anything yet, but if they exist they occupy a current gap in our knowledge). I also believe there COULD be a god that is immanent in what we experience; or a god that operates on a quantum level; or a god that is best described in pantheistic terms etc. etc.; or there COULD be no god whatsoever. ‘God of gaps’ you say, hopefully? Pitiful… it’s like you have the ‘Atheists’ Bible ’ in front of you and you don’t have the imagination to challenge my actual beliefs. Try harder (Ungraded).

And as you so generously chose to bestow upon me your reasons for your faith (though I’m pretty sure I didn’t ask), you really ought to have chosen better:

1) Though you’re inviting the converse fallacy, I agree the assumption of god doesn’t seem currently necessary as an explanatory principle (nor the assumption of no-god), but for a wannabe pragmatist, it’s a weirdly solipsistic view of ontology as regards non-scientific assertions (not even IBE covers that). I still wish you’d read some Gould.

2) Jesus wept (pun intended). Religion is not theism ; lack of religion is not atheism. This is a face-punchingly obvious distinction that baffles you. Any assumption, observation, criticism, or complement of religion has nothing to do with whether some sort of god could exist. To use your reasoning, a credible explanation for our conception of god is not a REQUIREMENT for a godless universe. Be consistent at least.

3) Evidence… here we go round the mulberry bush. It’s a clincher though, so frankly you can ignore everything else and focus on this. (Grab a coffee instead of a spliff; it may serve you better).

The rational, logical, evidence-based stance is this:

- If God-X is a god that leaves evidence-X (evidence we know how to find), AND he is in location-Y (where we’re looking), THEN evidence-X is also in location-Y
- Evidence-X is not in location-Y.
- Therefore God-X is not in location-Y.

Perfect, simple, and valid. Uncontroversial, in fact. It’s maths. Notice it contains no leap of logic about any other god that might leave any other type of evidence at any other location, and no converse fallacy. Walter, meet logic (don’t think you’ve met) – it’ll take you as far as the evidence but no further. This isn’t wordplay - this is cold hard rationality; the backbone of science, (I can give it to you in propositional logic if you want, but then you’d get defensive and start whining about the honest pub vernacular).

To sum up - I don’t know and that’s enough. You and the religious are the ones who likes to play guessing games about speculations. If forced, then yes I’m marginally swayed towards a universe with some sort of god because there’s an infinite number of possibilities and an infinite amount of opportunity but I don’t go beyond the evidence (insofar as it helps) - I don’t feel the need to have myself validated as part of a movement, or soak up doctrine, dogma and pre-packaged arguments. Not knowing is fine.

Meanwhile, you're so eager to espouse your hard atheism you will pretty much pretend an agnostic is a fervent believer in god just for a chance to share the reasons for your own faith! And why atheism? Maybe because it’s dressed in words that appeal to your ego; because you like your speculation more than anyone else’s; because you have a fundamental confusion about the nature of science, logic, atheism, and agnosticism; but ultimately (here’s the rub) because you have deep-seated long-standing emotional issues with religion that you conflate with theism. That last point is really the be-all and end-all, and the only thing about your faith that interests me.

Sometimes, being on the fence is the most rational place to be. It means you judge less, and understand more. When WalterEgo loses his Ego, he might join me.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (71 days ago)

I see a master weasel at work. Just swap "conception" for the vernacular - "idea". So: " A lack of my own idea means I allow for other ideas without having my own " . Great, except you just broadcast your own idea. No problem playing around with ideas, or even rating them, but you are using your idea to position yourself on the agnostic scale - that is, nearer to a universe with god than a universe without. It looks like you are trying to craft a position that you find politically acceptable. So instead of saying "religions are wrong", you say "religions are wrong but they are on the right track". At least that's the flavour you are trying to invoke. That is not a neutral agnostic position.

My position is not neutral either - I sway towards a godless universe. The difference is that I haven't come up with a conception of god to support my agnostic position, I have used reasoning. You may disagree with my reasoning, but I didn't just make up a story.

Your 'life in the universe' analogy is worth a comment. We have a definition for life which is less vague than "a currently unknowable supreme being". Also we know there is life in the universe, the question is, is there more life than just on Earth, and if so what type.

Here's more classic weaselling. " G od of the gaps’… nowhere have I used god as an explanatory principle. Sloppy. Quantum theory isn’t necessarily explained by a god, but it does suggest PARALLEL ways ". I love the use of "explanatory principle" and "parallel", but in caps. Nice touch. It's almost as good as "I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman".

"Religion is not theism ; lack of religion is not atheism. This is a face-punchingly obvious distinction that baffles you." Just think in the vernacular and you'll see I'm not conflating religion and theism - I'm connecting them, just like you have with your idea. I'm curious - have you tested your idea on religious friends? I wonder what the reaction of a Muslim would be to the idea that Muhammad got it wrong and Allah is actually the same currently unknowable god that an Aborigine prays to.

" To use your reasoning, a way in which a god could act isn’t PROOF of a god, but it would be a requirement for a universe with a god. Tick. " That's an interesting twist, but far less compelling. "No evidence of god" is easily falsified (simply by finding evidence) - "a way in which god could act" is unfalsifiable. So not so much a tick, more of a smudge.

It's interesting that you understood my point about no evidence (because you came up with a variation that uses the same reasoning), but when you come to discuss the actual point, ( Evidence… here we go round the mulberry bush...) you swerve into Boolean logic. What happened there?

I'll tell you what I think. It's a classic thought illusion at play. You have labelled me in such a way that gets your brain to manipulate this: "No evidence of god' is NOT proof of no god, but it IS a requirement for a godless universe" into a statement of Boolean logic.

Had you labelled me as a person driven by evidence, then 'no evidence ...' means 'I don't know' because there is nothing to base anything on.

So in a nutshell, neither of us know, but I sway towards a godless universe for the reasons I gave. You sway towards a universe with god by coming up with a carefully crafted conception of god.

Original comment

I see a master weasel at work. Just swap "conception" for the vernacular - "idea". So: " A lack of my own idea means I allow for other ideas without having my own " . Great, except you just broadcast your own idea. No problem playing around with ideas, or even rating them, but you are using your idea to position yourself on the agnostic scale - that is, nearer to a universe with god than a universe without. It looks like you are trying to craft a position that you find politically acceptable. So instead of saying "religions are wrong", you say "religions are wrong but they are on the right track". At least that's the flavour you are trying to invoke. That is not a neutral agnostic position.

My position is not neutral either - I sway towards a godless universe. The difference is that I haven't come up with a conception of god to support my agnostic position, I have used reasoning. You may disagree with my reasoning, but I didn't just make up a story.

Your 'life in the universe' analogy is worth a comment. We have a definition for life which is less vague than "a currently unknowable supreme being". Also we know there is life in the universe, the question is, is there more life than just on Earth, and if so what type.

Here's more classic weaselling. " G od of the gaps’… nowhere have I used god as an explanatory principle. Sloppy. Quantum theory isn’t necessarily explained by a god, but it does suggest PARALLEL ways ". I love the use of "explanatory principle" and "parallel", but in caps. Nice touch. It's almost as good as "I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman".

"Religion is not theism ; lack of religion is not atheism. This is a face-punchingly obvious distinction that baffles you." Just think in the vernacular and you'll see I'm not conflating religion and theism - I'm connecting them, just like you have with your idea. I'm curious - have you tested your idea on religious friends? I wonder what the reaction of a Muslim would be to the idea that Muhammad got it wrong and Allah is actually the same currently unknowable god that an Aborigine prays to.

" To use your reasoning, a way in which a god could act isn’t PROOF of a god, but it would be a requirement for a universe with a god. Tick. " That's an interesting twist, but far less compelling. "No evidence of god" is easily falsified (simply by finding evidence) - "a way in which god could act" is unfalsifiable. So not so much a tick, more of a smudge.

It's interesting that you understood my point about no evidence (because you came up with a variation that uses the same reasoning), but when you come to discuss the actual point, ( Evidence… here we go round the mulberry bush...) you swerve into Boolean logic. What happened there?

I'll tell you what I think. It's a classic thought illusion at play. You have labelled me in such a way that gets your brain to manipulate this: "No evidence of god' is NOT proof of no god, but it IS a requirement for a godless universe" into a statement of Boolean logic.

Had you labelled me as a person driven by evidence, then 'no evidence ...' means 'I don't know' because there is nothing to base anything on.

So in a nutshell, neither of us know, but I sway towards a godless universe for the reasons I gave. You sway towards a universe with god by coming up with a carefully crafted conception of god.

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Guest: P (68 days ago)

Oh the ‘umble vernacular. You’re still confused, so yes let’s use “idea”: An idea about how the universe exists (with a god, without a god) is not the same as an idea about what type of god there could be. I have ideas about the universe but not particular ideas about the nature of any god inside it. Try an easier metaphor - if I believe there will be refreshments in the interval, that isn’t an idea of what the refreshments will be. Same as life on other planets - an idea about existence or non-existence is not an idea of the nature of that existence or non-existence. To quote Kant (another you should read), existence is not a predicate or a quality. That’s why, despite continually pretending I have a particular idea of god (in order to get the only quarrel you're equipped to handle), you fail to name a single feature.

My position is neutral in that there aren’t many conceptions of god or no god that I cannot allow for. "Politically acceptable"? Oh please… more labels, you’re so stuffed with tired memes. As for your flavour of the month, ‘thought illusions’, every now and again I get an insight into what Youtube clips and Wikipedia entries you’ve been into. It’s endearing, but these little soundbites appeal to your self-image without meaning much, particularly when you can’t bring yourself to apply them to your own behaviour. Funnily enough, they are just more labels to prevent you from having to engage and understand.

There is no necessary or existential connection between theism and religion, and I don’t use one to calculate the probability of the other. I dare you to stand back from your hang-ups. You can be a theist who hates organised religion, or an atheist that praises it. To be a plausible atheist (as opposed to merely anti-religion), you need to do more than just quibble with what people say about god.

You accuse me of using god as an explanatory principle then when I point out I haven’t, you can only grumble about the way I denied it. ‘Weaselling’! – another label you can use to denigrate instead of engage. Tell you what; if you can quote me where I have used god as an explanatory principle then you are free to regurgitate your doctrine about god of the gaps. I’ll be all ears. Until then, it’s just wishful thinking and intellectual laziness on your part.

Personally, I don’t think that seeing something as unnecessary is meaningful support for a lack of belief, but you apparently do – so I was merely pointing out that if that really is the case, you really should apply that same logic to conceptions of god and ways they could act. As I said, pick your rules and impartially apply them to all your views equally.

Oh I see – now it’s not just whether it’s a requirement for something else, it’s whether it’s falsifiable! (Tweak tweak). More bad news: ‘No evidence for god’ is unfalsifiable in practice, because what constitutes evidence for “a currently unknowable supreme being”? Moreover, I remind you that falsifiability isn’t a test of whether something is true or even grounds to believe something, but just whether the claim can be considered scientific. Have another tweak.

The ‘swerve’ into logic (not Boolean but propositional) is to demonstrate how rational deduction works, and how your leaps of logic are just that. For me, but when we translate propositions in this way, it makes it clearer. It was just an expression of what an evidence-based belief on god would look like, to contrast with your views which go far beyond that.

So in a nutshell, you have your own speculations which you think are well-founded, but on closer inspection they are not strictly logical or evidence-based which is how you like to see yourself. This wouldn’t matter for someone less invested in their ego, but it is a problem for you because you know that those are criticisms you make about religions you hate, and it’s painful to acknowledge such similarities. So try accepting that no one’s beliefs about metaphysical entities are logical and evidence-based. Not even yours! We can have any number of views that are emotional (often inherited) and actually that’s fine - you can even still hate religion. You only come unstuck when you inflate yourself with these arrogant and false claims of super-rationality and scientific thinking. You’re just begging to be brought back down to earth.

Original comment

Oh the ‘umble vernacular. You’re still confused, so yes let’s use “idea”: An idea about how the universe exists (with a god, without a god) is not the same as an idea about what type of god there could be. I have ideas about the universe but not particular ideas about the nature of any god inside it. Try an easier metaphor - if I believe there will be refreshments in the interval, that isn’t an idea of what the refreshments will be. Same as life on other planets - an idea about existence or non-existence is not an idea of the nature of that existence or non-existence. To quote Kant (another you should read), existence is not a predicate or a quality. That’s why, despite continually pretending I have a particular idea of god (in order to get the only quarrel you're equipped to handle), you fail to name a single feature.

My position is neutral in that there aren’t many conceptions of god or no god that I cannot allow for. "Politically acceptable"? Oh please… more labels, you’re so stuffed with tired memes. As for your flavour of the month, ‘thought illusions’, every now and again I get an insight into what Youtube clips and Wikipedia entries you’ve been into. It’s endearing, but these little soundbites appeal to your self-image without meaning much, particularly when you can’t bring yourself to apply them to your own behaviour. Funnily enough, they are just more labels to prevent you from having to engage and understand.

There is no necessary or existential connection between theism and religion, and I don’t use one to calculate the probability of the other. I dare you to stand back from your hang-ups. You can be a theist who hates organised religion, or an atheist that praises it. To be a plausible atheist (as opposed to merely anti-religion), you need to do more than just quibble with what people say about god.

You accuse me of using god as an explanatory principle then when I point out I haven’t, you can only grumble about the way I denied it. ‘Weaselling’! – another label you can use to denigrate instead of engage. Tell you what; if you can quote me where I have used god as an explanatory principle then you are free to regurgitate your doctrine about god of the gaps. I’ll be all ears. Until then, it’s just wishful thinking and intellectual laziness on your part.

Personally, I don’t think that seeing something as unnecessary is meaningful support for a lack of belief, but you apparently do – so I was merely pointing out that if that really is the case, you really should apply that same logic to conceptions of god and ways they could act. As I said, pick your rules and impartially apply them to all your views equally.

Oh I see – now it’s not just whether it’s a requirement for something else, it’s whether it’s falsifiable! (Tweak tweak). More bad news: ‘No evidence for god’ is unfalsifiable in practice, because what constitutes evidence for “a currently unknowable supreme being”? Moreover, I remind you that falsifiability isn’t a test of whether something is true or even grounds to believe something, but just whether the claim can be considered scientific. Have another tweak.

The ‘swerve’ into logic (not Boolean but propositional) is to demonstrate how rational deduction works, and how your leaps of logic are just that. For me, but when we translate propositions in this way, it makes it clearer. It was just an expression of what an evidence-based belief on god would look like, to contrast with your views which go far beyond that.

So in a nutshell, you have your own speculations which you think are well-founded, but on closer inspection they are not strictly logical or evidence-based which is how you like to see yourself. This wouldn’t matter for someone less invested in their ego, but it is a problem for you because you know that those are criticisms you make about religions you hate, and it’s painful to acknowledge such similarities. So try accepting that no one’s beliefs about metaphysical entities are logical and evidence-based. Not even yours! We can have any number of views that are emotional (often inherited) and actually that’s fine - you can even still hate religion. You only come unstuck when you inflate yourself with these arrogant and false claims of super-rationality and scientific thinking. You’re just begging to be brought back down to earth.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (66 days ago)

I don't have any novel ideas about a universe with or without god. What I think comes from the evidence I am aware of. If evidence didn't drive my thoughts, then I could make up any old shit and I'm not prepared to do that.

You however have carefully crafted an idea about the universe with god, so that you can place yourself on the agnostic scale in a position of your choosing. If that's not political correctness affecting your judgement, I'll eat my cat.

"An idea about how the universe exists (with a god, without a god) is not the same as an idea about what type of god there could be. I have ideas about the universe but not particular ideas about the nature of any god inside it." Yes I know that we are talking about "your idea about god", not what type of god is in your idea. The only specifics you have given me is that - in your idea, god is currently unknowable and is the same god that all religious people pray to. Have you had feedback from religious friends? I'd love to hear their reactions.

"My position is neutral in that there aren’t many conceptions of god or no god that I cannot allow for." Your position is not neutral because you have created an idea of god that you are using to sway your otherwise neutral position.

You ask "what constitutes evidence for a currently unknowable supreme being?" There is no evidence, just as there is no evidence of the stockmarket for a cat. Without evidence we can just make something up - just like you did for your idea. Or, we can decide NOT to make stuff up and remain in limbo until there is evidence.

"As for your flavour of the month, ‘thought illusions’, every now and again I get an insight into what Youtube clips and Wikipedia entries you’ve been into." Thought illusion is something I made up. Any resemblence to what you've seen on YouTube is coincidental. I don't know if the brain actually works like that, but we know that our brains manipulate what we see to fit what it thinks we should be seeing (optical illusion), and that it manipulates what we hear according to what we see (the McGurk effect), and that it manipulates taste (blue milk will taste different to white milk), so I'd be very surprised if it doesn't manipulate what we think according to what we pre-think. That's why NDT doesn't like labels - because labels are perfect fodder for thought illusions.

About the god of the gaps - I thought there were only two wild cards - 'god of the gaps' and 'god's mysterious ways'. But now we have a third. Let's call it 'the spooky parallel' - something we don't understand that parallels something we consider supernatural, therefore maybe god. For example: entangled particles instantly react to each other even when billions of light years apart. Very spooky indeed. In fact, so spooky it parallels a power any supreme being would be expected to have - the ability to instantly affect something on the other side of the universe. Therefore maybe god.

Here's another example. Infinity goes on forever. That's spookily parallel to conceptions of the afterlife and eternity. Therefore maybe god.

I like this game. Your turn. Fill in the gaps: "... is spookily parallel to ... therefore maybe god."

"So in a nutshell, you have your own speculations which you think are well-founded, but on closer inspection they are not strictly logical or evidence-based which is how you like to see yourself." I don't know, and neither do you. I sway one way, you sway the other. What sways me is not speculation. I'm not speculating when I say there is no evidence. I'm not speculating when I say there is currently no need for god as an explanation for anything. And I'm not speculating when I say studies show religion is an evolved behaviour.

What sways you however is total speculation - an idea you made up based on a spooky parallel.

Original comment

I don't have any novel ideas about a universe with or without god. What I think comes from the evidence I am aware of. If evidence didn't drive my thoughts, then I could make up any old shit and I'm not prepared to do that.

You however have carefully crafted an idea about the universe with god, so that you can place yourself on the agnostic scale in a position of your choosing. If that's not political correctness affecting your judgement, I'll eat my cat.

"An idea about how the universe exists (with a god, without a god) is not the same as an idea about what type of god there could be. I have ideas about the universe but not particular ideas about the nature of any god inside it." Yes I know that we are talking about "your idea about god", not what type of god is in your idea. The only specifics you have given me is that - in your idea, god is currently unknowable and is the same god that all religious people pray to. Have you had feedback from religious friends? I'd love to hear their reactions.

"My position is neutral in that there aren’t many conceptions of god or no god that I cannot allow for." Your position is not neutral because you have created an idea of god that you are using to sway your otherwise neutral position.

You ask "what constitutes evidence for a currently unknowable supreme being?" There is no evidence, just as there is no evidence of the stockmarket for a cat. Without evidence we can just make something up - just like you did for your idea. Or, we can decide NOT to make stuff up and remain in limbo until there is evidence.

"As for your flavour of the month, ‘thought illusions’, every now and again I get an insight into what Youtube clips and Wikipedia entries you’ve been into." Thought illusion is something I made up. Any resemblence to what you've seen on YouTube is coincidental. I don't know if the brain actually works like that, but we know that our brains manipulate what we see to fit what it thinks we should be seeing (optical illusion), and that it manipulates what we hear according to what we see (the McGurk effect), and that it manipulates taste (blue milk will taste different to white milk), so I'd be very surprised if it doesn't manipulate what we think according to what we pre-think. That's why NDT doesn't like labels - because labels are perfect fodder for thought illusions.

About the god of the gaps - I thought there were only two wild cards - 'god of the gaps' and 'god's mysterious ways'. But now we have a third. Let's call it 'the spooky parallel' - something we don't understand that parallels something we consider supernatural, therefore maybe god. For example: entangled particles instantly react to each other even when billions of light years apart. Very spooky indeed. In fact, so spooky it parallels a power any supreme being would be expected to have - the ability to instantly affect something on the other side of the universe. Therefore maybe god.

Here's another example. Infinity goes on forever. That's spookily parallel to conceptions of the afterlife and eternity. Therefore maybe god.

I like this game. Your turn. Fill in the gaps: "... is spookily parallel to ... therefore maybe god."

"So in a nutshell, you have your own speculations which you think are well-founded, but on closer inspection they are not strictly logical or evidence-based which is how you like to see yourself." I don't know, and neither do you. I sway one way, you sway the other. What sways me is not speculation. I'm not speculating when I say there is no evidence. I'm not speculating when I say there is currently no need for god as an explanation for anything. And I'm not speculating when I say studies show religion is an evolved behaviour.

What sways you however is total speculation - an idea you made up based on a spooky parallel.

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Guest: P (65 days ago)

What a surprise – you can’t say where I’ve used god as an explanatory principle. And you’ve failed to name an actual characteristic of this idea of god I’m supposed to have. Agnosticism is an epistemic rather than ontological position –‘unknowable& rsquo; is about a human relationship with certain knowledge rather than a quality of existence (see craters below). No, I haven’t claimed anywhere that there IS a single god – I merely accepted that a supreme creator god worshipped by several religions COULD be the same. That’s semantics rather than theology, and it's not made-up.

Again, my view of the universe isn’t one with god, but one that merely COULD have god. Also not made-up. Unlike you, I stop where the evidence stops. That’s not positioning myself on a spectrum for anyone’s benefit; that’s obstinate rationality forcing my hand. You’re blissfully unaffected by such qualms.

At first, you pretend I’m a true theist believing in ‘god of the gaps’ so you can spout doctrine. It turns out I’m not, so next you have to call me politically correct for even tolerating true theists! Silly. Your cat ought to be worried – a disinterested view of the universe isn’t PC – deciding which toilet to use so as not to offend people is (for example). Redefine it or try and find another label. Better still, think for yourself without seeing the world through memes. No, I’m not too bothered if my stance offends but I don’t have a childish compulsion to insult people who I disagree with. Maybe it’s something you’ll grow out of, or maybe you’re just following the lead of your hard atheist idols.

Speculation isn’t saying ‘I don’t know, it COULD be either because of x’. Speculation is saying ‘god IS imaginary’ (your guess), or ‘god IS real (the Pope’s). As I’ve said, I don’t have to guess. You say you don’t make up ‘any old shit’ or have any particular ideas about a universe with / without god. Well, claims like ‘god only exists in our imagination’, or ‘god came after humans’ seem pretty made up to me, and rather distinct ideas about a godless universe. I don’t need to speculate like that.

No, a parallel isn't a speculation either. If you have to guess about gods, it’s reasonable to look for things that at least theoretically make it possible or impossible; parallels or preclusions. The definition of prayer presumes a possibility of instant communication across the universe, and quantum entanglement shows that such communication is in theory possible. Where’s the speculation? Saying that quantum entanglement IS the same process as prayer would be speculating, but noting a parallel is not. You look for parallels or preclusions too – there’s no definite god in the water cycle, so no god (or at least a godless universe is possible). So yes, you really do like that game. Your turn.

I know you fail to see any evidence here. But if you think god is a “a currently unknowable supreme being, then ‘no evidence’ is unfalsifiable - none of us agree on the nature of the evidence or the nature of the god. So much for your ‘falsifiable requirement’ rhetoric. Tweak the reason; hold doggedly onto your belief set.

The rational position is ‘I see nothing I call evidence to believe in the type of god I’m looking for here’. That’s logically sound, take note. ‘I see no evidence’ is fine but your speculation is basically ‘there IS no evidence here, so god only exists in our imagination and there is no real type of god leaving any type of evidence anywhere’. You may be correct, but it’s a speculation. I’m fine with that, but call it what it is and get over yourself.

In a perceived absence of evidence, our ‘limbo’ is not knowing either way. Remember craters on the distant moon? I don’t know if there’s an odd or even number, or even believe that we can know (and that unknowability isn’t a feature of the number of craters, is it?). IF I’m made to guess by a belligerent partisan, maybe I have vague reasons for choosing ‘even’. But you seem to have strong enough reasons for not just guessing ‘odd’, but for being sure enough to condemn anyone who guesses differently or says they don’t know. It’s not that you just lack a belief in an even number of craters – you’re committed and invested in your alternative speculation. Religious.

So yes, you speculate a lot – not just with the reasons for your stance, but with the stance itself. You’re so keen on speculating, this whole thread has basically been an attempt to get me to join in with your guessing games because you’re stumped by my default position of ‘I don’t know’ - your doctrine hasn’t taught you how to deal with that. Don’t worry - my agnosticism allows the possibility that your stance is correct. I don’t see it as the most rational or logical position to take (it amuses me that you pretend it is), but ultimately deep down I know you’re entitled to have emotional opinions based on your life experiences. I’ve had too many conversations with dyed-in-the-wool zealots to know that you won’t be changing your mind any time soon.

Original comment

What a surprise – you can’t say where I’ve used god as an explanatory principle. And you’ve failed to name an actual characteristic of this idea of god I’m supposed to have. Agnosticism is an epistemic rather than ontological position –‘unknowable& rsquo; is about a human relationship with certain knowledge rather than a quality of existence (see craters below). No, I haven’t claimed anywhere that there IS a single god – I merely accepted that a supreme creator god worshipped by several religions COULD be the same. That’s semantics rather than theology, and it's not made-up.

Again, my view of the universe isn’t one with god, but one that merely COULD have god. Also not made-up. Unlike you, I stop where the evidence stops. That’s not positioning myself on a spectrum for anyone’s benefit; that’s obstinate rationality forcing my hand. You’re blissfully unaffected by such qualms.

At first, you pretend I’m a true theist believing in ‘god of the gaps’ so you can spout doctrine. It turns out I’m not, so next you have to call me politically correct for even tolerating true theists! Silly. Your cat ought to be worried – a disinterested view of the universe isn’t PC – deciding which toilet to use so as not to offend people is (for example). Redefine it or try and find another label. Better still, think for yourself without seeing the world through memes. No, I’m not too bothered if my stance offends but I don’t have a childish compulsion to insult people who I disagree with. Maybe it’s something you’ll grow out of, or maybe you’re just following the lead of your hard atheist idols.

Speculation isn’t saying ‘I don’t know, it COULD be either because of x’. Speculation is saying ‘god IS imaginary’ (your guess), or ‘god IS real (the Pope’s). As I’ve said, I don’t have to guess. You say you don’t make up ‘any old shit’ or have any particular ideas about a universe with / without god. Well, claims like ‘god only exists in our imagination’, or ‘god came after humans’ seem pretty made up to me, and rather distinct ideas about a godless universe. I don’t need to speculate like that.

No, a parallel isn't a speculation either. If you have to guess about gods, it’s reasonable to look for things that at least theoretically make it possible or impossible; parallels or preclusions. The definition of prayer presumes a possibility of instant communication across the universe, and quantum entanglement shows that such communication is in theory possible. Where’s the speculation? Saying that quantum entanglement IS the same process as prayer would be speculating, but noting a parallel is not. You look for parallels or preclusions too – there’s no definite god in the water cycle, so no god (or at least a godless universe is possible). So yes, you really do like that game. Your turn.

I know you fail to see any evidence here. But if you think god is a “a currently unknowable supreme being, then ‘no evidence’ is unfalsifiable - none of us agree on the nature of the evidence or the nature of the god. So much for your ‘falsifiable requirement’ rhetoric. Tweak the reason; hold doggedly onto your belief set.

The rational position is ‘I see nothing I call evidence to believe in the type of god I’m looking for here’. That’s logically sound, take note. ‘I see no evidence’ is fine but your speculation is basically ‘there IS no evidence here, so god only exists in our imagination and there is no real type of god leaving any type of evidence anywhere’. You may be correct, but it’s a speculation. I’m fine with that, but call it what it is and get over yourself.

In a perceived absence of evidence, our ‘limbo’ is not knowing either way. Remember craters on the distant moon? I don’t know if there’s an odd or even number, or even believe that we can know (and that unknowability isn’t a feature of the number of craters, is it?). IF I’m made to guess by a belligerent partisan, maybe I have vague reasons for choosing ‘even’. But you seem to have strong enough reasons for not just guessing ‘odd’, but for being sure enough to condemn anyone who guesses differently or says they don’t know. It’s not that you just lack a belief in an even number of craters – you’re committed and invested in your alternative speculation. Religious.

So yes, you speculate a lot – not just with the reasons for your stance, but with the stance itself. You’re so keen on speculating, this whole thread has basically been an attempt to get me to join in with your guessing games because you’re stumped by my default position of ‘I don’t know’ - your doctrine hasn’t taught you how to deal with that. Don’t worry - my agnosticism allows the possibility that your stance is correct. I don’t see it as the most rational or logical position to take (it amuses me that you pretend it is), but ultimately deep down I know you’re entitled to have emotional opinions based on your life experiences. I’ve had too many conversations with dyed-in-the-wool zealots to know that you won’t be changing your mind any time soon.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (62 days ago)

"Again, my view of the universe isn’t one with god, but one that merely COULD have god." Yes, that's also my view. That's what "I don't know" means. We are talking about what makes you sway towards a universe with god. Please stay on track.

You sway from the neutral position (I don't know) to a non-neutral position (I don't know but ...) by carefully crafting a conception of god that you think is plausible.

Just to remind you, this was how I summed up your idea. "Every religion is a human attempt to describe the same "supreme being". They fail in terms of "accuracy" because god is unknowable and cannot be knowable to humans. You think the existence of an unknowable "supreme being" to be more likely than not. "

You then tweaked it a bit: "My tweak would be that perhaps they fail in accuracy (we don’t know and they can’t decide), and that god isn’t currently knowable."

Now you tweak it further: "SEVERAL religions COULD be a human attempt ..." Fair enough, it's only 2 words and ideas do evolve. You can tweak as much as you like, the point is your position is not neutral (which is not a problem in itself, my position is not neutral either), but what sways you from neutral is pure speculation - an idea about god and the universe that you made up based on your interpretation of some verses in some holy books about the "knowability" of god. And to support this idea - that all/several religions are/could be praying to the same god - you found a spooky parallel or two (my mistake to think it was god of the gaps).

I can only conclude that you carefully craft your very own conception of god so that you can position yourself on the agnostic scale where you are politically comfortable. Otherwise, why do it?

Original comment

"Again, my view of the universe isn’t one with god, but one that merely COULD have god." Yes, that's also my view. That's what "I don't know" means. We are talking about what makes you sway towards a universe with god. Please stay on track.

You sway from the neutral position (I don't know) to a non-neutral position (I don't know but ...) by carefully crafting a conception of god that you think is plausible.

Just to remind you, this was how I summed up your idea. "Every religion is a human attempt to describe the same "supreme being". They fail in terms of "accuracy" because god is unknowable and cannot be knowable to humans. You think the existence of an unknowable "supreme being" to be more likely than not. "

You then tweaked it a bit: "My tweak would be that perhaps they fail in accuracy (we don’t know and they can’t decide), and that god isn’t currently knowable."

Now you tweak it further: "SEVERAL religions COULD be a human attempt ..." Fair enough, it's only 2 words and ideas do evolve. You can tweak as much as you like, the point is your position is not neutral (which is not a problem in itself, my position is not neutral either), but what sways you from neutral is pure speculation - an idea about god and the universe that you made up based on your interpretation of some verses in some holy books about the "knowability" of god. And to support this idea - that all/several religions are/could be praying to the same god - you found a spooky parallel or two (my mistake to think it was god of the gaps).

I can only conclude that you carefully craft your very own conception of god so that you can position yourself on the agnostic scale where you are politically comfortable. Otherwise, why do it?

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Guest: P (52 days ago)
Latest comment:

Apologies for the late reply; I’ve been away. I understand if you can’t be bothered to get back into it, but I’ll reply to your points.

Whenever your belief set is under pressure, you dilute it a little or tweak. You’ve said you believe god exists only in the imagination, and that “god requires humans to exist”. Now you say the universe COULD have a real god and you’re only ‘swayed’ against the possibility! On one thread you claimed science and religion “are mutually exclusive unless the particular interpretation of a religion happens to match the scientific story”, then on the NDT thread you say “no one has claimed science and religion are mutually exclusive”. Tweak and dilute.

As an over-simplification, if 0% meant a certainty of a godless universe, 100% was certainty of god, and 50% was completely ambivalent, I’d be somewhere around 52% which is why it makes more sense to characterise myself as ‘I don’t know’. You seem somewhere around 15%, though you’d probably dispute that. Either way, you’re a lot closer to not believing than being ambivalent, which is a more speculative position.

You summed up my idea(not me) as "Every religion is a human attempt to describe the same ‘supreme being’". Obviously some religions don't agree with a supreme creator god, but the Abrahamic religions do. A supreme creator is by definition unique, so obviously if two people are praying to the supreme creator of the universe, it doesn't matter what they call it or if they follow the same religion – they’re praying to the same idea. That isn't a particular conception that I believe exists more than any other – it’s just what the words mean.

No, I don't craft an idea of a god I think is plausible. There are any number of radically different, (sometimes mutually exclusive) ideas of god that I think are plausible, and I allow for any one of them because I can't see enough valid reasons not to. I don’t have your tendency to cherry-pick the particular conception that supports my world view (see below). “Politically comfortable”! You are becoming a parody of yourself, applying the tabloid labels that you’ve been spoon-fed onto centuries-old philosophies. Broaden your reading material.

I’ll give you another chance: tell me some features of this idea of god I have. Go on, have a go. Take your time, and use my exact words. To reiterate, knowability obviously isn't a feature of an entity itself, because that relates to human knowledge rather than the subject (e.g. craters on a moon don't have or lack a quality of knowability). Have another try.

If you're feeling particularly clever, you could also have a shot at identifying my speculations. I've shown you how drawing a parallel isn't a speculation, nor is accepting that something COULD exist. Having a slight inclination towards some sort of deity existing is a marginal speculation (2%,as above) compared to yours, but despite your protestations I've made it clear that this is a very minor preference - it isn't a strong enough notion for me to call people I disagree with 'retards' or 'gullible' (for example) because it's just a guess which I don't generally care to make. You on the other hand are so utterly convinced by your guess you are willing to harangue those who disagree, and to invent sweeping generalisations. See the difference? You sway towards hard atheism like the Pope sways towards Catholicism. You’re even so desperate for the rest of us to seem as speculative as you, you end up trying to polarise other positions to something more controversial.

It feels mean to ask you to justify your accusations rather than merely repeating them, so to be fair I will do you the same favour: It’s actually you who has crafted conceptions of god, in this case to ensure they don't exist. Cherry picking. You won't contemplate most of the conceptions that I allow for (including pantheism), because you haven’t been exposed to pre-packaged arguments against them. Instead, you specifically argue against the ideas that you've conjured up because they fit the arguments you’ve been fed – god of the gaps etc. You don't believe in an all-loving, omnipotent god that leaves evidence here in front of us that we can all understand. Now that IS a specific conception. If you only have a hammer, you see every problem as a nail.

Meanwhile, a few of your speculations - firstly, that there is no god anywhere outside of our imagination and that a god “needs human to exist”. Secondly, that the apparent lack of local evidence logically supports a theory that there is no evidence anywhere or any kind. Thirdly, that conceptions of god in religion must be ontologically linked to deities. Fourthly, that the universe developed somehow but without a god. I could go on but if you're still reading, I don’t want to distract you from your homework – tell me about my conception, if I actually have one; tell me about my speculations, if I’ve actually made any.

Original comment
Latest comment:

Apologies for the late reply; I’ve been away. I understand if you can’t be bothered to get back into it, but I’ll reply to your points.

Whenever your belief set is under pressure, you dilute it a little or tweak. You’ve said you believe god exists only in the imagination, and that “god requires humans to exist”. Now you say the universe COULD have a real god and you’re only ‘swayed’ against the possibility! On one thread you claimed science and religion “are mutually exclusive unless the particular interpretation of a religion happens to match the scientific story”, then on the NDT thread you say “no one has claimed science and religion are mutually exclusive”. Tweak and dilute.

As an over-simplification, if 0% meant a certainty of a godless universe, 100% was certainty of god, and 50% was completely ambivalent, I’d be somewhere around 52% which is why it makes more sense to characterise myself as ‘I don’t know’. You seem somewhere around 15%, though you’d probably dispute that. Either way, you’re a lot closer to not believing than being ambivalent, which is a more speculative position.

You summed up my idea(not me) as "Every religion is a human attempt to describe the same ‘supreme being’". Obviously some religions don't agree with a supreme creator god, but the Abrahamic religions do. A supreme creator is by definition unique, so obviously if two people are praying to the supreme creator of the universe, it doesn't matter what they call it or if they follow the same religion – they’re praying to the same idea. That isn't a particular conception that I believe exists more than any other – it’s just what the words mean.

No, I don't craft an idea of a god I think is plausible. There are any number of radically different, (sometimes mutually exclusive) ideas of god that I think are plausible, and I allow for any one of them because I can't see enough valid reasons not to. I don’t have your tendency to cherry-pick the particular conception that supports my world view (see below). “Politically comfortable”! You are becoming a parody of yourself, applying the tabloid labels that you’ve been spoon-fed onto centuries-old philosophies. Broaden your reading material.

I’ll give you another chance: tell me some features of this idea of god I have. Go on, have a go. Take your time, and use my exact words. To reiterate, knowability obviously isn't a feature of an entity itself, because that relates to human knowledge rather than the subject (e.g. craters on a moon don't have or lack a quality of knowability). Have another try.

If you're feeling particularly clever, you could also have a shot at identifying my speculations. I've shown you how drawing a parallel isn't a speculation, nor is accepting that something COULD exist. Having a slight inclination towards some sort of deity existing is a marginal speculation (2%,as above) compared to yours, but despite your protestations I've made it clear that this is a very minor preference - it isn't a strong enough notion for me to call people I disagree with 'retards' or 'gullible' (for example) because it's just a guess which I don't generally care to make. You on the other hand are so utterly convinced by your guess you are willing to harangue those who disagree, and to invent sweeping generalisations. See the difference? You sway towards hard atheism like the Pope sways towards Catholicism. You’re even so desperate for the rest of us to seem as speculative as you, you end up trying to polarise other positions to something more controversial.

It feels mean to ask you to justify your accusations rather than merely repeating them, so to be fair I will do you the same favour: It’s actually you who has crafted conceptions of god, in this case to ensure they don't exist. Cherry picking. You won't contemplate most of the conceptions that I allow for (including pantheism), because you haven’t been exposed to pre-packaged arguments against them. Instead, you specifically argue against the ideas that you've conjured up because they fit the arguments you’ve been fed – god of the gaps etc. You don't believe in an all-loving, omnipotent god that leaves evidence here in front of us that we can all understand. Now that IS a specific conception. If you only have a hammer, you see every problem as a nail.

Meanwhile, a few of your speculations - firstly, that there is no god anywhere outside of our imagination and that a god “needs human to exist”. Secondly, that the apparent lack of local evidence logically supports a theory that there is no evidence anywhere or any kind. Thirdly, that conceptions of god in religion must be ontologically linked to deities. Fourthly, that the universe developed somehow but without a god. I could go on but if you're still reading, I don’t want to distract you from your homework – tell me about my conception, if I actually have one; tell me about my speculations, if I’ve actually made any.

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