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Any person can comment on this post, but it's geared towards Christians (Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, etc.) Anyone can post the first subject of conversation. Just discuss issues about the religion (Heaven, evangelism,etc.) :rolleyes:

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ADParker: What is 'truth-value'?

It is basically the value a given statement or argument has towards uncovering the truth of a matter.

Essentially as to how reliable or useful an argument is in regards to th etruth of that being claimed/thought.

Assessing the truth-value is next to impossible in any detail of course - a 50% truth-value for instance has no real meaning. But in a general sense, and at the extremes (0%, 100%) such things can be assessed.

By way of example:

1.

"I couldn't stand the thought of living in a world where there was no afterlife to be obtained." - a REAL 'argument' I have heard more than once, for there being an afterlife.

This has ZERO truth-value. As it adds absolutely nothing to the truth-value (likihood that it is in fact true) of the claim of there being an afterlife. It is as a matter of fact an example of the logical fallacy (fundamental error in reasoning) known as the Appeal to Consequences.

2.

"If I am a typewriter then the moon is made of blue cheese.

I AM a typewriter.

Therefore;

The moon AS made of blue cheese."

(Another real world example; the very first logical syllogism I was ever given in a Philosophy paper in universeity.)

This has real truth-value - but only so far as the conclusion NECESSARILY follows from the premises.

Thus it is absolutely truth that IF those premises were true, the so too would be the conclusion.

The syllogism is of the logically valid form known as Modus Ponens if anybody cares. ;)

3. (no example here, but a point about the in between scenarios.)

Truth-Values can also be assessed through comparison, such that argument A provides more Evidence, fits better to the known facts, has more rational support and/or so on, than Argument B does.

For example is one side merely demonstrates that the facts and evidence are consistent with their given conclusion, while the other actually points to how the facts and evidence can actually be seen to pint (to any level of strength) to their conclusion , then the latter side demonstrates the greatest potential truth-value.

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I'm really replying because of ADParker's words. You (ADParker) said, "How could a being exist outside or time, what would that even mean?!"

I would answer that that is quite possible.

I will start with thins, because it is actually important.

It may well be possible. Although merely "possible" while vital, doesn't really count for much. It is possible that I am nothing but a brain in a vat, and everything I think I have experienced has been an illusion/delusion. Possible, but plausible? Probable?

My point was not to imply that it is impossible, but as a reaction to this old canard "God exists beyond space and time" offered AS IF it was such a simple dismissive solution. The aim therefore is to get the one throwing out such clich├ęd lines to actually stop and think about it.

On to your story.

Let's say I want to be a god. I can create a universe with a computer.

Ah a computer. So in your hypothetical situation your god exists in another universe in which there exists spacial and temporal dimensions, as well as energy and matter with which to develop things, like computers.

That could be one way to get around the problem. It is much the same as some of the various multiverse hypotheses, just with the addition of the intentional production of THIS universe.

It does rather do little but poses even more questions: where did 'you' and your universe come from then? The fundamental question of how to universes come to exist still remains.

UNLESS you want to go the cyclical route, which while counter intuitive to our (historically societally inculcated into us) linear way of thinking, is a possibility. Of course that all paves the way of a simpler explanation of all this happening WITHOUT an "intelligent Designer" being needed to be dreamed up.

And that is what so many "Creator" arguments reveal; a desire for the apologist (one making the argumen) to FIT a creator god in there. As opposed to that naturally springing from the evidence and reasoning.

In my universe program I could start off by creating many tiny particles (points with properties) and then give the universe a few properties of its own and then allow those points to interact according to their properties until they eventually evolve into beings that are capable of questioning their own existence.

Basic Deism. It does just assume an intentional being doing the job in the first step however, without justification. Why would one be so ready (if not due to prior, and ancestral, indoctrinated preconceptions of course) to ignore the simpler possibility of a mindless starter to that process? Why leap so readily to the postulation of a complex creative intelligence already existing at the beginning?

Now, of course we couldn't create a universe as great as our own from a computer program within our universe, but I think in theory you should be able to get the idea. The "time" in our computer universe isn't the "time" that we are in. We would exist outside of the time of the people in our computer universe.

Right, as I said - ALL ( :rolleyes: ) you need to assume in this scenario is:

The existence of an intelligent being existing outside of our universe's spacetime,

With the ability (mental and physical) to create a computer up to the task (or any means of creating this universe in a more generalised model). Or the existence or other means by which such a device would come to be,

The existence of another set of spatial and temporal dimensions (besides our own) in which to act,

and of course the existence of energy and matter that exists in that other spacetime, with which to work with.

That's all. :excl:

And actually a computer simulation avoids the question of how our dimensions are created, by what amounts to something of a little trick - our 'reality' would be USING the very same dimensions of the "greater" universe in which the computer exists, only our perception of the dimensions would be distorted through computer simulation. It's a trick because it doesn't explain the existence pf spacetime, but instead tries to slip around the question.

Having said that, I would assert that it is completely possible that our universe may have been created by something else in some other universe.

Possible, sure.

And as even our best science (physics) breaks down around the point of the big bang -ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE (with the probable exception of the violation of the conceptual mathematical and logical laws.)

This universe wasn't necessarily created by anything else; it may have just formed all on its own. I think that both are reasonable ideas.

As the available data for reasoning is so very very slim on that topic, I wouldn't say reasonable, so much as us not having enough to really count anything out at this juncture - even the insanely implausible.

Therefore, I call myself an agnostic. I also call myself an atheist, however, because I lack a belief in any gods.

I too am an Agnostic-Atheist. :D

I do think that it's possible that something created this universe (and exists outside of the time of this universe), but just because I think it's possible doesn't mean that it would be rational of me to assert that "God" created this universe or that God can communicate telepathically with the humans on Earth that are simply the results of a process of evolution or that we ought to worship this "God" or that when we die and our brains stop functioning we will still remain conscious in an "afterlife" or ... etc.

I know! Where does all that come from?! Not from the origin arguments presented, but from preexisting beliefs being allowed to creep in - at least as far as I have ever been able to tell.

So, ADParker, I don't know if you realized or not (perhaps you were just trying to get LJayden to think), but I think there are reasonable answers to your questions.

It's all about the promotion of critical thought baby!

I really don't care WHAT you (generalised 'you') think - except in how those beliefs inform ones actions of course - But HOW you think, and promote THAT one think more critically.

You (ADParker) also said, "And HOW could it 'create' time without time in which to do it?"

I may have already answered that, but I'll try to clear it up by saying that there are two different "times." If you create a computer world then the "time" in that computer world is not the same as the "time" in this universe.

This is interesting actually; it ties somewhat into my two degrees; philosophy and information systems - go figure!

Actually this in not technically the case. All it would mean is that (as we have longs suspected anyway, and know to a degree) our perception of what spacetime actually is impaired by the limits of our senses (the same reason we can't see through a solid wall ,even though we know know that it is comprised entirely of atoms which are themselves most empty space!) And that the REAL spacetime dimensions may be radically different that we may imagine.

In your thought experiment spacetime exists just the same, and there is only one set, but our perceptions of what they are, and how they operate is relative to how particular situation. (Well you look at that; a touch of Einstein's relatively physics sneaked in there!)

Yours would not so much be an explanation of the 'creation' of our universe, so much as an idea of how distorted out ideas of it's nature truly is. In effect our universe would be the same as that of the computer and it's designer, just with us having a very limited grasp of it.

...

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ADParker: "Creating is a temporal event; it implies that at one point it wasn't there THEN it was made."

When a human is created, the human is there even before it is alive. It is in the form of other matter and energy in this universe and then forms into a living human being.

Not the human no. At some point... Actually no not at a point (an all too easy mistake to make that) its more of a process, a period, of "becoming" such that at one point there is no human, then there is a process in which the matter/energy becomes a human, such that at a later point one can rightly say that there is a human. There is not neccessarily some specific (magical) point/line over which we don not/do have a human.

A human is a collection of energy (I will drop "matter"as that is a form of energy anyway) in a particular form. That energy exists prior yes, but not the human. It would be (category) mistake to say the the human is there before it is a human.

The same could be true about this universe being "created" if it was created by a "god" in the sense that the god formed this universe out of the material in the god's universe's surroundings.

True. Quite different from the typical theistic model which claims that this god somehow existed 'before' and created the material to begin with.

Which raises all kinds of questions (seldom asked by the apologist) such as how does one "create" without anything to create with?

How does one create without any energy to expend in so doing? (By creating that energy? with what? Circular Reasoning.)

How can a being be said to exist if it is not comprised of any energy or matter?

You see the problem is usually one created by the theistic apologetics itself. Which star with the assertion that Nothing can come from nothing and energy can't just create itself.

That is why I like (not "believe") the quantum fluctuation idea that what we naively refer to as nothing is in fact a 'bubbling' field of energy, averaging out as zero ("nothing") due to nothing (the zero state of energy) being inherently unstable, and collapsing into "something."

The beauty of that is that one need not postulate any imagined magical beings or anything remotely resembling a creator.

And I think that many are so opposed to such a concept because they REALLY want the answer to be "magical."

then how is it that the "God" that you believe created this universe is capable of existing without having been created?

Indeed. Or as Carl Sagan said it (paraphrasing wildly) If you say that God always existed and didn't need a cause, then why not save yourself a step and say that the universe always existed?

I know LJayden doesn't think that "God" was created, but I'll say this anyways. Perhaps there is a god of this universe that we are in now. Perhaps there is another god that created the universe that contains the god that created this universe that we are in now. Perhaps there is yet another god that created the universe that contains the god that created the universe that contains the god that created this universe.... It can go on and on. But, eventually it is unavoidable that there must be something in existence (whether it be LJayden's "God" or the god of the universe that created "God"'s universe, etc) that exists without creation. Something must be able to "just exist."

Or our linear intuition of things is incorrect.

I have no idea what universe it is that "just exists" without creation. I would say that it is possible that there is a Large superstructure universe (call it The Universe) that contained some being that created a Universe B that created our universe that we are in now. With this possibility, you could say that our universe (that began with the Big Bang) is actually contained within the superstructure universe (The Universe).

The Multiverse - That is one level of models of the multiverse (of which there are four.)

I would also say that it is possible that this Big Bang universe is The Universe--it exists without creation.

The No Boundary model (devised by Stephen Hawking and Jim Hartle) is one model of that possibility; a unievrse existing a finite period into the past but having no beiginning - and that is physics, not mere story telling.

Anyways, ADParker: What do you think of what I have said? Do you see how it would be possible that this universe was created?

Anything's possible.

"Anyway once again you have given nothing but empty assertions."

I would agree with you, ADParker: LJayden's assertions were quite empty.

:lol:

It is all too easy to do with that when one starts with the conclusion.

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fine, people, i'll say it loud and clear.

we as Christians have a defined doctrine, yes,

Actually you Christians have thousands of differing ones. Hence all the schisms and denominations.

and it cannot be proved by mankind's ways of reasoning.

If you say so. No reason to believe it then. Pity.

And proof is a matter of reason, it is something only found through reasoning.

And there are no fundamentally different ways of reasoning either. Only better or worse reasoning based on ability, understanding and availability of evidence/data.

If one way of reasoning says X and another says Not-X then one of this is simply flawed.

so what if i find something that doesn't fit in? i'm young, i don't know how everything fits together.

Then the mature thing to do would admit ones limitations, and try to learn from others - by listening and taking on board what they say. Not accepting or rejecting it out of hand.

For example how I demonstrated and pointed out the many flaws in what you have said here.

God can show me later on.

He could start with providing at least one good reason to think he even exists. And one MUST wonder why he hasn't given any of you (billions) theists at least one good argument for his existence, for presenting to us non-believers.

i'll say it one last time and i think i've had my full say on this topic: call me stupid and naive if you wish: faith like a child rules over reason.

I see no need to call you either.

And you can assert that as much as you like, and your efforts here thus far have shown that; yes it does for some, it is it indeed childish and irrational to think that way, as it leaves one with nothing but empty assertions and platitudes, of no tangible value to anyone.

(PS, not that i am fully against reasoning...why do you think i joined the Den in the first place??? maybe that explained something to you who uses the Force. sure, man is smart enough to find medications, et cetera. but when reasoning fails, faith comes in)

Sadly it often does. When some can not find the solution, sometimes one resorts to believing a given story anyway. :( Perhaps because one has not reached the level of being able to face the uncertainty to the level of accepting that sometime "I just don't know" is the best answer available, and seeks the comfort of an answer, any answer, no matter how worthless.

An analogy I have long used is this.

It is like the person who when walking along a trail (representing reason) in the deep forest, comes to the end of the path in the middle of nowhere (th elimits of one's reasoning is reached.) The Reasonist stops and goes no further (perhaps backtracking, making all efforts to seek any hints of a possible trail, or seeking aid etc.) Faith however is just picking a direction, choosing to believe that it is "the way" and barging on into the undergrowth.

Any good tramper/hiker knows that that is the best way to end up dead. As there are so many more wrong ways to go than right ones.

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And that is what so many "Creator" arguments reveal; a desire for the apologist (one making the argumen) to FIT a creator god in there. As opposed to that naturally springing from the evidence and reasoning.

Yes, but one thing the militant atheist ought to realize is that of course there isn't and never would be any "evidence" that a god created this universe. Evidence is natural and the idea of a god is supernatural. I will say that I not only think that is possible that this universe was created by something in another larger, universe, but I also think that it is plausible and even probable (probable to the point that I'd say that I'd bet roughly 50-50 that this universe was created by something else, rather than forming out of nothingness). Notice that there's no evidence to suggest that this universe formed out of nothing either. Yes, there is a lot of evidence that it formed from the Big Bang, but is there any evidence that the Big Bang (and the existence of this universe) started all on its own? No. That could be true or it could be true that something else in existence somewhere created the Big Bang. Both options are possible and I would say they are both plausible and probable as well ("probable" not meaning greater than 50% likelihood, but both significant enough that I wouldn't dismiss either idea as being too far-fetched). I have no idea what the truth is to this question. I'm agnostic. I'm an atheist (I'll say again), because I reject the fictitious "gods" of religions and think that all of this worship/prayer/afterlife/intervention is irrational. Those things are not probable. But, the possibility that the Big Bang was started by something else (deism or unintentional creation) seems just as likely as the Big Bang starting from nothing (atheist perspective on our universe's origin).

Right, as I said - ALL ( :rolleyes: ) you need to assume in this scenario is:

The existence of an intelligent being existing outside of our universe's spacetime,

With the ability (mental and physical) to create a computer up to the task (or any means of creating this universe in a more generalised model). Or the existence or other means by which such a device would come to be,

The existence of another set of spatial and temporal dimensions (besides our own) in which to act,

and of course the existence of energy and matter that exists in that other spacetime, with which to work with.

That's all. :excl:

I disagree with your sarcasm. Why does that seem so unlikely to you? It seems to me that you think it's much more likely true that our universe wasn't created. Why though?

And actually a computer simulation avoids the question of how our dimensions are created, by what amounts to something of a little trick - our 'reality' would be USING the very same dimensions of the "greater" universe in which the computer exists, only our perception of the dimensions would be distorted through computer simulation. It's a trick because it doesn't explain the existence pf spacetime, but instead tries to slip around the question.

I don't understand. Why couldn't their possibly be a greater universe with some sort of computer that this universe (with spacetime) is running on?

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Right, as I said - ALL ( :rolleyes: ) you need to assume in this scenario is:

The existence of an intelligent being existing outside of our universe's spacetime,

With the ability (mental and physical) to create a computer up to the task (or any means of creating this universe in a more generalised model). Or the existence or other means by which such a device would come to be,

The existence of another set of spatial and temporal dimensions (besides our own) in which to act,

and of course the existence of energy and matter that exists in that other spacetime, with which to work with.

That's all. :excl:

Why so sarcastic?. Why does that seem so unlikely to you that all of these assumptions are true? It seems to me that you think it's much more likely true that our universe wasn't created. Why though? You said yourself that there wasn't enough information for us to say that any of the possible explanations for the origin of universe are "reasonable." They all seem possible, but because we don't know much at all you said that we couldn't call any of them "reasonable." So why do you downplay the deism/unintentional creation possibilities as less likely than the atheist's non-created universe possibility?

Perhaps you weren't really downplaying it and were in reality just trying to get LJayden to think. All I was trying to say is that with the limited information I have I would reason that I have no idea which possibility is more likely true. I'm close to 50-50 (50% that the universe was created and 50% that it wasn't created). In fact, I might be leaning slightly towards it being created simply because this universe seems like something that would be very easy to simulate on a computer, for example. "What if there were a bunch of points with these properties and these few laws to govern the universe?" "Big Bang, etc."

And actually a computer simulation avoids the question of how our dimensions are created, by what amounts to something of a little trick - our 'reality' would be USING the very same dimensions of the "greater" universe in which the computer exists, only our perception of the dimensions would be distorted through computer simulation. It's a trick because it doesn't explain the existence pf spacetime, but instead tries to slip around the question.

I don't understand. Why couldn't their possibly be a greater universe with some sort of computer that this universe (with spacetime) is running on?

Yours would not so much be an explanation of the 'creation' of our universe, so much as an idea of how distorted out ideas of it's nature truly is.

I was just that computer universe "explanation" as one possible way of how a "god" could exist outside of the "time" of this universe.

I'm out of time now so I'll respond to the rest later.

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Yes, but one thing the militant atheist ought to realize is that of course there isn't and never would be any "evidence" that a god created this universe.

Heh "Militant Atheist." That one always makes me laugh. :lol:

Never would be any evidence? Why then no one should ever believe such a thing, should they?

Think about it:

- X is the explanation of this thing Y

* Okay, and what evidence supports this claim of yours?

- Sorry we have no evidence and even think that it is impossible to find any to support or claim

* Good enough for me, I accept your claim then.

:wacko:

Evidence is natural and the idea of a god is supernatural.

Does "supernatural" even have any real meaning at all? Of what possible value is such a term? It is nothing but another word for "The unknown."

Effectively distorting "I don't know" in such a fashion as to pretend that is a positive answer "Oh it was a supernatural cause."

Just has has been said for innumerable other things for which no one at the time had any real answer. Lightening? The gods (supernatural) throw them in anger. Tornado - literally dust devils...

"Supernatural" is a cop out. There is no REAL divide between the natural and the supernatural, except that the natural is that which we can currently understand and/or examine to any degree, and the supernatural is anything thus far beyond our reach. The moon, the stars - "the heavens" were once "supernatural", then we learned how to examine them and suddenly "natural." Due to millennia of religious inculcation too many people have gotten it into their heads, as some kind of assumed foundational truth, that "the supernatural" is a real tangible thing, a separate realm, instead of what it truly is; nothing but a term to refer to that which is beyond our current reach, to examine and measure. One might as well refer to that shelf that is just to high for one to reach and see what is on it (in the garage, pantry, supermarket or wherever) is of a supernatural nature. And then one might as well make up fanciful stories about what is there; "That's where the Golden apples (which give the gods eternal life) are kept..." :rolleyes:

Because that is the ting with the supernatural. Thus far beyond our ability to obtain any evidence of, as you say. One could (and many have) make up ANY fanciful story (fairy tale, myth...) about what is "out there" as no one can text it.

And secondly; as the reach of man extends, the "supernatural realm" still remains out of reach. Because the supernatural IS NOT a realm, but that area beyond our current reach. As our reach increases, "the supernatural" simply recedes, remaining that area just out of reach. And that is how The God-of-the-Gaps (a form of the argument from ignorance logical fallacy) works; by placing one's cherished belief ever beyond that imaginary border, in the supernatural.

The ancient Greeks once placed their gods on Mount Olympus, as that peak was "supernatural" (inaccessible/unmeasurable...) But once it became possible to examine that, it was no longer supernatural, and no gods were to be bound. No problem; the gods were simply pushed out beyond the new limits of our understanding - the heavens, another realm, or what have you. Anything to keep them beyond the reach of examination, unfalsifiable.

Does that mean that they REALLY do exist, but beyond our ability to perceive? Or that the adherents/perpetrators of the belief are protecting a fairy tale? Do even the adherents know which is the case any longer?

That's not how it works anyway. If a god did create the universe. Perhaps no evidence of that could ever be found. In that case, it is a proposition that would never get any rational support, and would therefore never have any foundation on which to base a belief in such a thing. It would ever remain in the realm of those fanciful things of fairy tales and fantasy.

But if it truly did happen, then what we could look out for is evidence of it's effects. It was the creation of the universe after all! We may not have access to that creator, but the universe is still here, and we can examine that for hints and traces to its nature, and origins. This in fact is precisely what is done in the fields of physics, especially cosmology: There are innumerable clues in the fabric of the universe, from which we can (an have to a limited degree already) unravel close to how it came to be as it is. Big Bang cosmology being the most notable example to the general public.

The things we have learned about this amazing universe in which we live, which only a few centuries, decades and even years ago, could only be referred to as "supernatural" (or more honestly "the unknown") is just staggering (and beautiful!)

And declaring ANY area of the currently known as "the supernatural which will NEVER be understood" is just an attempt to stifle and cut of investigation. An attempt to stop the investigation and instead to believe in ignorance based flights of fancy. "Don't try to peek behind the curtain, just believe in the might Oz." No! :mad:

I will say that I not only think that is possible that this universe was created by something in another larger, universe, but I also think that it is plausible and even probable (probable to the point that I'd say that I'd bet roughly 50-50 that this universe was created by something else, rather than forming out of nothingness).

And just think about the inherent flaw in that statement of yours.

You declared (by fiat really, although a inculcated one - not a deliberate deception or anything - it's the same way that 'we' just knew that blacks were sub-human, and that animals felt no real pain and had no souls) that "the supernatural" is beyond investigation, and that this creator hypothesis provides NO EVIDENCE (and can not ever provide any.) Yet in spite of that you somehow managed to come up with a Probability calculation! With what pray tell?!

You also compounded things by fabricating a False Dilemma (logical fallacy.) Implying it was between "a creator" or "out of nothing." Without any data one can not declare the odds to be 50-50. Without data the odds are simply unknown.

*As it happens we CAN do a little better than that:

"Out of nothing" does have some degree of rational thought. It is from quantum physics, so complicated and most difficult to understand (but the kind of results obtained through it is simply astounding - if the maths works that well, then it's onto something.) But it is there; that "nothing" is quite different than the layman thing he understands it, and that this "zero state energy" is inherently unstable, such that 'nothing' is bound to 'collapse' into something (matter/energy) and even with models predicting the probability of this occurring at any one instance at over 60%! So there is some, albeit confusing, evidence and reasoning to support "something out of nothing" as a real contender at the very least.

"a creator did it" however has nothing real behind it at all. Except for a history of belief, based as far as one can tell on nothing but imagination and story telling. An example of the kinds of stories man has always come up with to try to explain some phenomena. But unlike that of the explanation of the movements of the stars and the nature of the lightening, it has not advanced to the levels where ACTUAL evidence and examination has replaced (or validated) those fanciful notions. And on top of that it only opens up even more questions as to how that creator came to be and so on; a probable infinite regression. And a worthless one if there is nothing of any substance to any of the steps in that regression anyway. If you make up a story, then another to explain that story, then another...all you are left with is a bunch of stories al without any foundation at all. Again this is like the biblical analogy of Building castles on the sand, except here it is buildingon top of just the story of sand. :lol:

This 50-50 notion is an all too common mistake. And an abuse of both reason and mathematics.

It did remind me of this however. A couple of YouTube videos from someone I debated for quite some time. Just note the profound ignorance of probability calculation, and the all too eaar leap to 50-50 odds (oh and just because it is just so laughably ridiculous):

(I wonder how he's doing now. Did he ever get the help I suggested that he needed I wonder.)

Notice that there's no evidence to suggest that this universe formed out of nothing either.

But there is evidence, of a sort. And what about every other possibility? Which, as we are talking about an area beyond our grasp, is literally infinite.

All things being equal (that is with zero evidential support) any one possibility has a probability of infinity:1 - that is; every possibility is practically impossible. But because they are equally so, any is as good (and bad) as another. A roll of an infinite sided dice gives a probability of any given number coming up as infinity:1, but it has to be one of them.

This too is the case with the origin of the universe, just so long as we remember that one of those possibilities is that the universe had no beginning at all.

Modern science however is pointing to two possible solutions, two that do have at least some rational support, that stand up at least a little above all multitude of possibilities. And no "a being from beyond is not one of them) those being the possibility of the natural collapse of 'nothing' leading to the big bang (direct or distant cause? Unknown,) or that the universe had no beginning at all, most notably supported by Stemmed Hawing and Jim Hartle's Non Boundary model. The evidence supporting them may be light, but in a sea of infinite possibilities with zero support, they stand out like unbelievably high mountain peaks in an infinitely spread out flat expanse!

Yes, there is a lot of evidence that it formed from the Big Bang, but is there any evidence that the Big Bang (and the existence of this universe) started all on its own? No.

Quite right - sort of.

The Big bang is the earliest known event, not the origin point of the universe, unless one defines "universe" in a certain way. Basically the origin of the universe of stars planets and so on.

The current answer to what existed 'prior' to th ebig bang, and why/how it did undergo that rapid expansion is "We don't know,"

That could be true or it could be true that something else in existence somewhere created the Big Bang.

Or anything at all really.

Hypotheses (based on extrapolation of the real, include that Black holes can cause universes, that the universe was caused by the banging together to two 'membranes' (M-theory stuff, an expansion of string theory.) And indeed all kinds of wild ideas, because of how little information we have to work on. The mistake is in BELIEVING any of these notions to be the truth.

Both options are possible and I would say they are both plausible and probable as well ("probable" not meaning greater than 50% likelihood, but both significant enough that I wouldn't dismiss either idea as being too far-fetched).

No. Neither plausible or probable can come out of zero data. They are generalised description of probability assessment of data. With no data, no probability assessment can be made.

I have no idea what the truth is to this question. I'm agnostic. I'm an atheist (I'll say again), because I reject the fictitious "gods" of religions and think that all of this worship/prayer/afterlife/intervention is irrational. Those things are not probable. But, the possibility that the Big Bang was started by something else (deism or unintentional creation) seems just as likely as the Big Bang starting from nothing (atheist perspective on our universe's origin).

One wonders why you break it down to those two possibilities though. An obviously third generalised possibility would be some unknown mindless cause. A matter of natural causation (Just as abiogenesis being a matter of chemistry.) a 'nothing' causation or a Sentient creator is simply an atrocious false dilemma. And calling it "creation" as opposed to "Causation" just begs for that mistake.

I disagree with your sarcasm. Why does that seem so unlikely to you? It seems to me that you think it's much more likely true that our universe wasn't created. Why though?

No, what I think is that there is not nearly enough data to make any postulation worthy of belief.

What I also recognise however is Occam's razor. That it is not proper to add in extra material/entities without just cause. Especially when there are other avenues that don't require such a conflation of extra stuff, which then itself demands even more explanation.

It's all possible - it is "the supernatural" after all. It is also unlikely - simply due to the complete lack of evidential and rational support. That is by definition lacking in any level of likelihood. That doesn't make it impossible of course, just unfounded, and not-likely.

The problem I think is that people make the mistake of thinking that unlikely means some kind of negative probability = evidence against, when all it really means is a lack of evidence for. You yourself said there is no evidence (and that there can't be any - how you KNOW that I have no idea) that renders it "unlikely" straight away.

I don't understand. Why couldn't their possibly be a greater universe with some sort of computer that this universe (with spacetime) is running on?

The thought experiment of a computer wouldn't be that. What you are doing is imagining something beyond a computer simulation, but some kind of devise that actually creates new dimensions, of time and space. Once again one should not mistake of thinking that the answer is more compelling than is justified because on a superficial level it doesn't seem that difficult. Normal computer simulations are easy to imagine (as we have those now) but a 'computer' actually creating ACTUAL universes, with their own dimensions as so forth, is another matter entirely!

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The thought experiment of a computer wouldn't be that. What you are doing is imagining something beyond a computer simulation, but some kind of devise that actually creates new dimensions, of time and space. Once again one should not mistake of thinking that the answer is more compelling than is justified because on a superficial level it doesn't seem that difficult. Normal computer simulations are easy to imagine (as we have those now) but a 'computer' actually creating ACTUAL universes, with their own dimensions as so forth, is another matter entirely!

The simulation proposal: Our reality exists in a simulation only, run on a computer maintained by a super-advanced race existing in another universe, which itself could be a simulation, or not. There is no need for creating real, physical dimensions in the model. Our simulations of weather, for example, are performed in three simulated dimensions within an essentially one dimensional memory bank in a computer.

Rational basis: If only one civilization, at any time, anywhere in the multiverse, develops computing power that can simulate the finite realm of our known reality, and if it has no effective prohibition on performing such simulations, then the number of simulations that a civilization performs is overwhelmingly likely to be more than one (We run new weather prediction models every day, MassiveSoftware.com runs huge numbers of agent simulations in which the resident populations have a certain limited free will, just as we do, etc.). Thus under these simple conditions, the probability that we exist in a simulated universe is far greater than that we exist in a real physical 'first principle' universe. Furthermore, evidence from our world indicates that nearly all simulations are performed for a purpose, such as to predict or study some aspect of the behavior of the system, so the universe in which we exist is likely to have a specific purpose built into it by our simulators.

Evidence:

1.) Our universe appears built on a grid, with grid spacing equivalent to the Planck Length. Distances shorter than that have no meaning to science, even in theory. One example of the explicit application of a finite grid of space-time ('grains' of space-time) in physics: The field of Loop Quantum Gravity.

2.) Resolution of Fermi's paradox: (If intelligence (reason) is a successful strategy in our universe, then where is the evidence for it anywhere in the vast universe beyond our planet?) Computer models can exploit adaptive grids, with fine resolution only at the locus of study (e.g. Earth). If intelligent life requires Planck-length resolution to exist, and if our simulation is performed on an adaptive grid in which the resolution decreases with distance from us, then intelligent life could not exist in any other place in this universe, and Fermi's paradox is resolved. This is a far more satisfying argument than the one that says we just happen to be the first emergent intelligence.

3.) Fine tuning and the 'argument from design' (the Teleological Argument): Our reality/universe has about 30 fundamental physical parameters that physics tells us can hold any arbitrary value, yet for intelligent life to exist these parameters have to be exquisitely fine tuned, in some cases to one part in 10**120. Science has no explanation for this fine tuning, but the simulation scenario explains it simply: the parameters were set by our simulators as 'initial conditions' of the simulation.

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The simulation proposal: Our reality exists in a simulation only, run on a computer maintained by a super-advanced race existing in another universe, which itself could be a simulation, or not. There is no need for creating real, physical dimensions in the model. Our simulations of weather, for example, are performed in three simulated dimensions within an essentially one dimensional memory bank in a computer.

Indeed. But here are the fundamental problems with this thought experiment as an explanation:

1. It doesn't explain the existence of the dimension and energy/matter of the universe at all. It just suggests that they are an illusion devised by some other dimensions, matter and energy. (this is the minor point.)

2. It raises the question; okay where did that universe come from?

AS you said, one option is to push the problem back even further by saying that that is a simulation as well. This is the very same argument as any prior universe argument, as well as any creator existing prior argument as well. It leads to an potential infinite regress; empty (imaginative, but evidence free) storybook answer after empty storybook answer.

Which leads us to three possible end points

-1: There was no beginning point; a cyclical concept or somesuch.

-2: There was some defined initial starting condition. An ultimate creator being, or any other possible thing, that in some fashion did not itself have or need its own cause/explanation.

-3: The simple "I don't know" admission.

The latter two especially have this problem:

As each and every 'explanation' (of this universe, and that universe from which this cam etc.) are nothing but stories - no evidence FOR them, just postulated ideas devised to explain the universe we do know exists - The, obvious when you see it, question/suggestion (as made by Carl Sagan in his book/TV series "Cosmos") is: So why not just say that this universe meets those conditions, why add in all those imaginative intermediates? If the given (-2) or unknown (-3) first cause explains that postulated scenario (prior universe, a god/creator...) then why not just say that it explains this universe without adding in that extra evidence-free step.

The classic example is in response t the claim that:

The universe needs an cause to explain it,

God created the universe,

but God needs no cause, as he/she/it was uncaused, eternal.

Then why not save yourself a step, and thus avoid the extraneous extrapolation of extra entities/stuff (which also beg for even more explanation,) and just say that the universe itself was uncasued or eternal in some fashion?

The concern is that such god claims strongly suggests that the apologist (one trying to make the argument) is TRYING to fit this god in there, whether it belongs or not.

Rational basis: If only one civilization, at any time, anywhere in the multiverse, develops computing power that can simulate the finite realm of our known reality, and if it has no effective prohibition on performing such simulations, then the number of simulations that a civilization performs is overwhelmingly likely to be more than one (We run new weather prediction models every day, MassiveSoftware.com runs huge numbers of agent simulations in which the resident populations have a certain limited free will, just as we do, etc.). Thus under these simple conditions, the probability that we exist in a simulated universe is far greater than that we exist in a real physical 'first principle' universe. Furthermore, evidence from our world indicates that nearly all simulations are performed for a purpose, such as to predict or study some aspect of the behavior of the system, so the universe in which we exist is likely to have a specific purpose built into it by our simulators.

Ah yes, I am familiar with that argument. unfortunately it is flawed. One could stick anything in there and declare that is more probable that we are the product of that, than not. For examples replace "making multiple computer simulations" with "having a purple duck that gives birth to universes". If one such duck exists in each universe, but they lay more than one egg in each. Then it is more probable that we live in a world birthed by a purple duck than not.

Now add the infinite number of other "If" scenarios, and see what you are left with: Given any specific "If" then ANY possibility is more probable than any other. All you are left with is; Is this "If' scenario true? If not, then we have learned precisely nothing.

Evidence:

1.) Our universe appears built on a grid, with grid spacing equivalent to the Planck Length. Distances shorter than that have no meaning to science, even in theory. One example of the explicit application of a finite grid of space-time ('grains' of space-time) in physics: The field of Loop Quantum Gravity.

Built on a grid? No, just formed of discrete parts, as opposed to continous.

I don't see this as evidence for this universe being created in any fashion remotely resembling any religious notion.

2.) Resolution of Fermi's paradox: (If intelligence (reason) is a successful strategy in our universe, then where is the evidence for it anywhere in the vast universe beyond our planet?) Computer models can exploit adaptive grids, with fine resolution only at the locus of study (e.g. Earth). If intelligent life requires Planck-length resolution to exist, and if our simulation is performed on an adaptive grid in which the resolution decreases with distance from us, then intelligent life could not exist in any other place in this universe, and Fermi's paradox is resolved. This is a far more satisfying argument than the one that says we just happen to be the first emergent intelligence.

Huh?

"If intelligence (reason) is a successful strategy in our universe, then where is the evidence for it anywhere in the vast universe beyond our planet?"

What?!

Year 1800: "If other planets existed, then where is the evidence for them anywhere in the vast universe beyond our planet?"

Answer we hadn't found the means to do so yet. That's all.

That also makes huge presumptions about the value/nature of intelligence in the universe.

3.) Fine tuning and the 'argument from design' (the Teleological Argument): Our reality/universe has about 30 fundamental physical parameters that physics tells us can hold any arbitrary value, yet for intelligent life to exist these parameters have to be exquisitely fine tuned, in some cases to one part in 10**120. Science has no explanation for this fine tuning, but the simulation scenario explains it simply: the parameters were set by our simulators as 'initial conditions' of the simulation.

Sigh (sorry, had this crap thrown at me far too often.)

The universe is best "fine tuned" (as theists love to put it, as it implies intent, "tuned" makes it so much easier to make the mistake of leaning and leaping to "intentional sentient tuner") NOT for life, but for Black Holes. Whose properties and requirements are such that the conditions are also such that smattering of life are bound to crop up here and there, as come kind of by-product.

Which harkens back to the question you posted above; if the universe is so fine tuned to life, then why haven't we found any beyond our one little pale blue dot?

And that fine tuning of the constants stuff is just rubbish mathematics, abased on far too little information, and making unwarranted assumptions to fill the gaps.

A tiny shift in one parameter would make life impossible? So what? If you instead shift a number or (probably connected in some fashion) parameters, then that parameter (it has been found in a number of cases) can be shifted by very large amounts, without negatively affecting the conditions of life at all. Such "fine tuning" arguments have the same fundamental flaw as most other GodDidIt arguments: It starts with the supposition of an answer, then tries to make the data fit. And in this case; take out one result, Life/intelligent-life or whatever, and asks why the universe was tuned for that to occur. Basically assuming that this was the intended end goal. Which is also the intended conclusion, making all of this circular. Why not ask why the universe seems so finely tuned for Black Holes? Not only is this the case (black holes exist don't they? Which is the entire basis of this fine tuning argument - weak huh?) but unlike with "life" the universe appears OPTIMALLY fine tuned for Black Hole formation.

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(Note: ADParker: You may want to (i.e. I highly recommend that you) read this all the way through before starting to write your reply. I repeated myself a lot by the end of it in an effort to make sure that I've successfully communicated what I wanted to you. The problem was that I started replying before reading all the way through. So, to make sure you don't do what I did, I would say that you should read through it all first. And thanks for all of the posts. They've been fun/interesting so far and I'm learning as well.)

Does "supernatural" even have any real meaning at all? Of what possible value is such a term? It is nothing but another word for "The unknown."

"Supernatural" meaning stuff that is above or beyond what is natural. In other words, the stuff that is in the "greater" universe (the "god"'s reality), not the natural stuff that we find in this Big Bang universe. All of the natural evidence that we find in this universe pertains to the happenings of this universe. It doesn't tell us about the possibly-existing greater superstructure universe that our universe may be contained in. That's why I said that I would never expect their to be an evidence that a "god" created the universe (because evidence is natural (within this Big Bang universe)) and the god is supernatural to us (not unexplainable, but outside of our physical universe). So, we can find natural evidence that we evolved from microscopic organisms billions of years ago, but we cannot find evidence that a god started the Big Bang. We have no way of knowing anything about such a god or even that the god exists because it is supernatural.

There is no REAL divide between the natural and the supernatural, except that the natural is that which we can currently understand and/or examine to any degree, and the supernatural is anything thus far beyond our reach. The moon, the stars - "the heavens" were once "supernatural", then we learned how to examine them and suddenly "natural."

No, you're thinking that I'm a religious person still. There is a divide between the natural and supernatural. If I create a computer universe run on a computer, I can make it so that the beings in my computer universe have absolutely no way of determining anything about me. They might be able to tell something about the physical laws of my universe from the physical laws that I give their universe, but they wouldn't be able to reach out beyond the computer where the universe is being simulated and determine that their god has brown eyes and brown hair. They have no evidence to support the existence of me. For all they know, their universe may have formed out of nothing. I created the computer universe, but they have no way of knowing that. Get it? Their knowledge of our supernatural universe is extremely limited to the extent that it's quite possible that they can't even determine that something created their universe. They may be atheists who think that the universe formed out of nothingness without creation.

One might as well refer to that shelf that is just to high for one to reach and see what is on it (in the garage, pantry, supermarket or wherever) is of a supernatural nature.

In my computer universe that I created, the beings in that universe won't regard the shelves in their world (that exist in the memory of the computer) as supernatural. They'll regard the shelves in my bedroom as supernatural because they have no way of ever discovering anything about the shelves in my bedroom. Their universe is being run on a computer and the physical laws that govern their universe may be different than the laws that govern my universe. It may be possible that they can determine something about the laws of my universe seeing as their universe is a computer program being run on my universe, but they will still not be able to ever determine what color eyes I have, simply because that supernatural characteristic is completely out of reach of them. It's not just "out of reach" on a shelf, but it is completely impossible for it to ever reach them. The natural "out of reach" shelves in their universe are still natural in their universe. If I were you in the computer universe I wouldn't call those shelves supernatural. I'd call the shelves in my bedroom supernatural. Do you see the difference? Do you now agree with me that it is meaningful to draw a line between the natural and the supernatural?

And secondly; as the reach of man extends, the "supernatural realm" still remains out of reach. Because the supernatural IS NOT a realm, but that area beyond our current reach. As our reach increases, "the supernatural" simply recedes, remaining that area just out of reach. And that is how The God-of-the-Gaps (a form of the argument from ignorance logical fallacy) works; by placing one's cherished belief ever beyond that imaginary border, in the supernatural.

Again, I disagree. From the perspective of the "god," the god can see that their is indeed a realm that is supernatural to the universe that the god created. As an example, I will play the role of the god of my computer universe again. I know that the shelves in my bedroom and the color of my eyes are part of the supernatural realm. The "out of reach" shelves that exist in the computer universe that even the beings in the universe cannot find out what is on top of them, are still natural, even if you in my computer universe think that those out of reach shelves are supernatural.

If you disagree with the difference that I am trying to outline then tell me: in what way are the shelves in my bedroom "natural" from the perspective of the beings inside of my computer universe?

And that is how The God-of-the-Gaps (a form of the argument from ignorance logical fallacy) works; by placing one's cherished belief ever beyond that imaginary border, in the supernatural.

Again, you're talking about religious people.

You quoted me saying "Yes, but one thing the militant atheist ought to realize is that of course there isn't and never would be any "evidence" that a god created this universe."

You replied, "Never would be any evidence? Why then no one should ever believe such a thing, should they?"

The beings in my computer universe shouldn't believe that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the father and they shouldn't think that I'm a kid in high school on a planet called Earth who has brown eyes (even if they happen to luckily guess correctly on that). So I do agree with you that people shouldn't believe those things. I also think that because of the lack of evidence on things that are supernatural then I not only think that I do not know whether or not the universe was created, but I think that as far as my knowledge goes it is unknowable from within this universe to know whether or not this universe was created. Now, I realize that it might be possible for us to find evidence one day (after advancing in our scientific knowledge tremendously) to expand our natural realm in order to determine confidently whether or not this universe was created by a "god," but, even then I highly bet that there will be things that will forever remain outside of our natural view, within the supernatural realm. Perhaps the supernatural realm is indeed smaller than we currently think, but I do think there is a difference between the two realms. From the god's perspective, the god could easily determine what parts of their universe are within the supernatural realm and which parts are simply "currently" (for the beings in the god's universe) supernatural. So, from our human perspective in our universe, you do have a point that we can't reasonably draw a line between what is natural and what is supernatural, but just because we can't draw the line doesn't mean that the line doesn't exist. From the god's perspective the line may certainly exist and thus, in the end I'll hold my original view that there is a difference between the natural and supernatural.

To comment again on you:

Never would be any evidence? Why then no one should ever believe such a thing, should they?

Correct. No one should ever assert that their is a god when that god is completely supernatural to them. However, from our perspective, we do not know for sure what exactly the "supernatural" is so I suppose my statement "that of course there isn't and never would be any "evidence" that a god created this universe" is flawed to the extent that this "god" may not be supernatural after all. It may be within our natural view in the future to learn something about this god. However, I do stand by what I originally said that the militant atheist ought to realize that some things ARE supernatural and thus there is no evidence and never will be any evidence supporting the existence of those things. But, that does not mean that those things do not exist. For the religious people out there, it doesn't mean you should assert they do exist either. So I'll now note that the reason why I was saying all of this earlier was because you implied to me that you thought that it was more likely true that this universe was NOT created. I thought that the presence of so many irrational religious explanations for conscious creations of this universe may have caused you to think that. And I think that that view is flawed. I do not see any more reason to think that the universe was not created than I see reason to think that it was created, or vice versa. Thus, I'm at about 50-50 right now if I was to gamble on the topic.

Now, I haven't read many of your comments on what I have said yet, so I'll read them now and then comment below.

Many comments I could make so far... slight misunderstandings, but it's not needed that I take the time to clear them up.

This, however:

That is why I like (not "believe") the quantum fluctuation idea that what we naively refer to as nothing is in fact a 'bubbling' field of energy, averaging out as zero ("nothing") due to nothing (the zero state of energy) being inherently unstable, and collapsing into "something."

The beauty of that is that one need not postulate any imagined magical beings or anything remotely resembling a creator.

And I think that many are so opposed to such a concept because they REALLY want the answer to be "magical."

That seems unnecessary in my view. Even if the "bubbling" thing didn't exist and the total amount of energy did not average out to zero, I don't think that it would make a difference. It would still be quite possible that the universe could have formed out of nothingness without creation. If the Big Bang was just a non-created "what if there were a bunch of points with properties at this central point?" causing the average energy in the universe to be zero, I think there could also be a Universe #2 that could be a non-created "what if there were a bunch of points with properties at this point with a momentum in this direction?" causing the average energy of the universe to not be zero. (Note: Hopefully you can see past my terrible description of what our universe may be to see why I think that it wouldn't matter whether or not the net energy of the universe is zero or not... either way I think it would be plausible that the universe wasn't created).

Does that mean that they REALLY do exist, but beyond our ability to perceive? Or that the adherents/perpetrators of the belief are protecting a fairy tale? Do even the adherents know which is the case any longer?

You were just saying more things for a religious audience. No, of course that doesn't mean they really exist. I'm not religious. I think that all of these gods of religions and other religious beliefs are completely fictional and imaginary.

And just think about the inherent flaw in that statement of yours.

You declared (by fiat really, although a inculcated one - not a deliberate deception or anything - it's the same way that 'we' just knew that blacks were sub-human, and that animals felt no real pain and had no souls) that "the supernatural" is beyond investigation, and that this creator hypothesis provides NO EVIDENCE (and can not ever provide any.) Yet in spite of that you somehow managed to come up with a Probability calculation! With what pray tell?!

I don't understand. I have no idea which is more likely true and thus I am 50% confident that the first option is true and 50% confident that the second option is true.

I declared that the supernatural is "beyond investigation" as you say, because that's how I define "supernatural."

And yes, I declare that by definition there is no evidence of supernatural things.

Probability calculation? No, 50-50 isn't a calculation based on any knowledge I have. It is my statement that I am 50% confident that the universe was created and 50% confident that the universe was not created. The two must add to 100% because it was either created or it wasn't and I'm saying 50-50 because I have no idea which is more likely true than the other. If I had to guess whether or not the universe was created I wouldn't mind flipping a coin to decide my bet. That's what I'm saying. Is that still flawed as you said it was? If so, I still don't see what the flaw is. Could you please enlighten me?

...

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...

You also compounded things by fabricating a False Dilemma (logical fallacy.) Implying it was between "a creator" or "out of nothing." Without any data one can not declare the odds to be 50-50. Without data the odds are simply unknown.

You're right, I think I did imply that it was between a "creator" and "out of nothing," but I didn't mean to imply that. In my mind I was thinking "created" and "not created" where "created" wasn't necessarily a conscious, intentionally creation (i.e. a god). Thus, as far as I can see, those are the only two options; either the universe was created or it wasn't.

Well the "odds" are just how likely it is that each option is true based on the data we have. If we have absolute knowledge/data then the odds are going to be 100-0 in favor of the correct option. Because I have no data on this subject, I think that my "odds" of 50-50 are correct. Until I get some knowledge on the supernatural, I think my lack of data causes my odds to be 50-50. I'm no more confident that one option is true than the other. Why would the odds be unknown? The odds are expression of what you do know. I don't know anything so 50-50 are my odds. Why would this be wrong?

So there is some, albeit confusing, evidence and reasoning to support "something out of nothing" as a real contender at the very least.

"a creator did it" however has nothing real behind it at all. Except for a history of belief, based as far as one can tell on nothing but imagination and story telling. An example of the kinds of stories man has always come up with to try to explain some phenomena. But unlike that of the explanation of the movements of the stars and the nature of the lightening, it has not advanced to the levels where ACTUAL evidence and examination has replaced (or validated) those fanciful notions.

This is exactly what I have been disagreeing with you on. In this quoted paragraph I see the major flaw that I've been talking about(I see it as a flaw in your thinking still. Let's figure out if you're really wrong).

The lack of evidence for a supernatural thing creating the universe causes you to consider that possibility less than the possibility that "out of nothing" is true because there IS some evidence that "out of nothing" is a real contender. Why though? I've already explained why there are things that exist that we have no evidence for and never can have any evidence for. Yet you are dismissing the possibility as less likely than the "out of nothing" possibility once again simply because of the lack of evidence to support the supernatural possibility. But, I've already told you that we shouldn't expect there to ever be any evidence to support the "created" explanation because by definition this supernatural stuff is out of reach of our natural selves.

And you keep saying "history of belief" and "fanciful notions." Remember, I'm not religious. I don't have a desire to believe that a magical god dude created the universe. I'm just saying that I think that it is unknowable as far as I currently know (meaning my current knowledge suggests that the "created" answer is in the supernatural realm and thus out of our range of discovery no matter what.... the "god" or "created" answer may turn out to not be in the "supernatural" realm after all and thus it might be possible that there is evidence to support the "created" explanation, but as far as I'm aware now, I don't expect there to be any evidence to be discovered to support a "created" explanation.) and that your implied assertion that it is more likely true that "out of nothing" is true than "created" is true is flawed. I'm 50-50 and you're 50+-50- in favor of "out of nothing" over "created", judging by the quoted paragraph above (and here: "So there is some, albeit confusing, evidence and reasoning to support "something out of nothing" as a real contender at the very least.

"a creator did it" however has nothing real behind it at all.").

Do you see what I'm saying? Do you see the flaw that I'm trying to point out? You implied you're 50+-50- in favor of "out of nothing" over "created" because you have some knowledge/evidence/reason to support "out of nothing" but you don't have anything to support "created." I think that's flawed though, as I explained above. Do you agree now or not? Why?

Again this is like the biblical analogy of Building castles on the sand, except here it is buildingon top of just the story of sand.

I disagree again. Rather than me saying that a specific castle exists (that's what many religious people assert), I am asserting that a castle may exist or a castle may not exist and I have no reason to think that it is more likely true that a castle exists than a castle doesn't exist or vice versa. Thus, I am still 50% confident that a castle exists and 50% confident that a castle does not exist. I'm close to 0% confident that the Christian Castle exists. How is this flawed? I still don't understand why you think it is.

And I read the next sentence... "This 50-50 notion is an all too common mistake." :D So this needs clearing up for sure. Why is it a common mistake? I don't see why it's flawed.

The guy in the video is crazy, yes. I don't think that I'm making that 50-50 chance mistake though. I'm saying I'm 50-50 in confidence because I have no reason to shift in favor of one over the other and I think that "created" and "not created" (aka "out of nothing") cover all possibilities. I'm not saying that I'm 50% confident that there's a 100 dollar bill in your front right pocket and a 50% chance that there isn't a 50 dollar bill in your right pocket given that there is one 50 dollar bill in one of your four pockets. If you think I am, please please explain to me how my 50-50 is flawed. I've repeated myself a lot and I still don't see why you think it is.

And what about every other possibility?

I've said "created" and "out of nothing" as including all possibilities. You just mentioned "no beginning" which I would say is included in "out of nothing" (which is just called "not created" earlier). Basically, either the universe was created either intentionally or not intentionally ("created") or else it was "not created" meaning that it formed "out of nothing" or has simply "always been" without beginning. So the title "out of nothing" may have made it seem like I wasn't including all possibilities, but in my mind, again, I think I am. Either the universe was created or it wasn't. I have no reason to think that one is more likely true than the other and so my confidence is still 50-50. Do you still think this is flawed?

No. Neither plausible or probable can come out of zero data. They are generalised description of probability assessment of data. With no data, no probability assessment can be made.

Again :( , can't I come up with the 50-50 confidence even without any data if the two options include all possibilities? Either the universe was created or it wasn't. I'm 50% confident that it was created and 50% confident that it wasn't created.

One wonders why you break it down to those two possibilities though. An obviously third generalised possibility would be some unknown mindless cause.

Oh no, after repeating myself several times I'm finally coming to realize that I think you may have just said that my 50-50 was a flaw because you interpreted what I was saying as the two options not being the only two options. This is when communication can take a lot longer when using online forums.

No, what I think is that there is not nearly enough data to make any postulation worthy of belief.

Oh no!!! My fear has been realized. Why didn't I read through all of your comments before beginning to respond? What you said earlier implied something to me and I assumed that you thought it was true throughout many of my replies when in fact you didn't think that after all.

The problem I think is that people make the mistake of thinking that unlikely means some kind of negative probability = evidence against, when all it really means is a lack of evidence for. You yourself said there is no evidence (and that there can't be any - how you KNOW that I have no idea) that renders it "unlikely" straight away.

Is there any evidence that dragons exist some universe somewhere (not in this universe or a "greater" universe, but in some other universe that you can imagine)? No. But, do I think that such a dragon exists? Yes. I think that everything exists... not necessarily in this universe or in a universe that can affect this universe at all or is at all related to this universe, but somewhere... somewhere of no significance to us whatsoever, I think dragons exist. I think that this view is rational as well, but that's unrelated to this long mess above.

The thought experiment of a computer wouldn't be that. What you are doing is imagining something beyond a computer simulation, but some kind of devise that actually creates new dimensions, of time and space. Once again one should not mistake of thinking that the answer is more compelling than is justified because on a superficial level it doesn't seem that difficult. Normal computer simulations are easy to imagine (as we have those now) but a 'computer' actually creating ACTUAL universes, with their own dimensions as so forth, is another matter entirely!

I do think that I can create a universe with a computer program. I think I can create a universe with my imagination. These universes wouldn't be nearly as great and complex as our own universe, nor would they have the same dimensions, time, or space. But, I would classify them as sorts of "universes" nonetheless. Why? Because I think that our universe can possibly be entirely the creation of some being in a "greater" universe who simply created this universe on a "computer". And yes, this is another matter entirely.

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"Supernatural" meaning stuff that is above or beyond what is natural. In other words, the stuff that is in the "greater" universe (the "god"'s reality), not the natural stuff that we find in this Big Bang universe. All of the natural evidence that we find in this universe pertains to the happenings of this universe. It doesn't tell us about the possibly-existing greater superstructure universe that our universe may be contained in. That's why I said that I would never expect their to be an evidence that a "god" created the universe (because evidence is natural (within this Big Bang universe)) and the god is supernatural to us (not unexplainable, but outside of our physical universe). So, we can find natural evidence that we evolved from microscopic organisms billions of years ago, but we cannot find evidence that a god started the Big Bang. We have no way of knowing anything about such a god or even that the god exists because it is supernatural.

Then there is no evidence of the "supernatural" even existing at all.

As a matter of fat it is at least potentially possible to discover something about that which exists/existed beyond the limits of the universe. This is done by assessment of the effects on what we can examine. Just as a detective can learn something about a killer by examining a crime scene from which the killer has long vacated. Including of course that the victim was killed, as opposed to some other cause of death. The same can potentially be done for the explanation of the universe's existence as well. It is of course precisely what the apologetics of the fine tuning argument, the religious anthropic principle (as opposed to the scientific one), the Kalam cosmological argument etc. are trying to do: Infer that there was a creator being based on the evidence of the nature of the universe.

Bottom line 1: You do not need direct access to something to find evidence for it.

Bottom line 2: Possible or not, without such evidence, it is irrational to believe a given claim.

No, you're thinking that I'm a religious person still.

No. But this is supposed to be a "Christian Discussion" - so I am trying at least to tie this to religious notions.

There is a divide between the natural and supernatural.

Not by my understanding of the term. It is just one of many theistic (and otherwise apologetic) clobber words. As far as I am concerned the 'natural' is everything that exists, and would extend beyond the universe if such a thing exists. So "natural" can be limited by defining it as that which can be examined. This does not mean there is a hard barrier, but just our current limits of detection.

But by using yours; yes. One is real, the other either is not, or if it is; it presents nothing to give us any reason to think it is.

If I create a computer universe run on a computer, I can make it so that the beings in my computer universe have absolutely no way of determining anything about me.

Then if any of them DID believe in you (even if they got it exactly correct!) they would be morons. Because they have absolutely no reason to do so.

They might be able to tell something about the physical laws of my universe from the physical laws that I give their universe, but they wouldn't be able to reach out beyond the computer where the universe is being simulated and determine that their god has brown eyes and brown hair. They have no evidence to support the existence of me. For all they know, their universe may have formed out of nothing. I created the computer universe, but they have no way of knowing that. Get it? Their knowledge of our supernatural universe is extremely limited to the extent that it's quite possible that they can't even determine that something created their universe. They may be atheists who think that the universe formed out of nothingness without creation.

Just so no one makes this incorrect assumption:

Atheism is not (nor does it include) the belief that the universe formed out of nothingness. It is simply NOT having the belief that a god created it.

"brown eyes and brown hair"?! Who cares? How about evidence from what can be detected, which points to a designer etc. No? Without that, such a belief would be irrational.

Do you see the difference? Do you now agree with me that it is meaningful to draw a line between the natural and the supernatural?

No.

It's pointless to talk about people thinking of things that they have no knowledge of whatsoever. If one of your people believe in your shelves, then they are crazy people (or duped by charlatans/crazy people.) They are only "supernatural" in that they exist beyond the scope f their ability to know anything about. As I said supernatural - the unknown.

Again, I disagree. From the perspective of the "god," the god can see that their is indeed a realm that is supernatural to the universe that the god created. As an example, I will play the role of the god of my computer universe again. I know that the shelves in my bedroom and the color of my eyes are part of the supernatural realm. The "out of reach" shelves that exist in the computer universe that even the beings in the universe cannot find out what is on top of them, are still natural, even if you in my computer universe think that those out of reach shelves are supernatural.

If science one day discovers some real stuff beyond our universe; other universes, and what 'lies' between them (or whatever may be) then those things will NOT be considered supernatural. "Supernatural" is simply not a concept used in science or reasonable discourse. Instead it will simply be a expanded understanding of what exists. The natural/reality will suddenly be found to be a whole lot larger than we once realised. That's it.

If you disagree with the difference that I am trying to outline then tell me: in what way are the shelves in my bedroom "natural" from the perspective of the beings inside of my computer universe?

From the perspective of those being? As far as they are concerned they are neither natural or supernatural. As far as they are concerned; they don't exist. Because they have absolutely nothing to suggest that they do. If they did gain a reason to think they exist, then they would be "natural."

Again, you're talking about religious people.

Of course I was. It was an example of how "supernatural" is often used. As it is a religious term, except when used in a purely philosophical terms as the unknown, as that which can not be explained by the CURRENTLY understood natural laws etc.

Theists pretend this means they are of some magical source.

Rational people realise that this simply means that the laws are incomplete, and that there are some extra laws (or revisions of known ones) which we have missed.

but I think that as far as my knowledge goes it is unknowable from within this universe to know whether or not this universe was created.

I would never go that far. Not until I found evidence that suggests that it is impossible. Not having a clue of how to examine anything beyond the universe is not evidence that it is impossible to do so (that smacks of so many historical assertions - e.g that human flight is impossible.)

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Now, I realize that it might be possible for us to find evidence one day (after advancing in our scientific knowledge tremendously) to expand our natural realm in order to determine confidently whether or not this universe was created by a "god," but, even then I highly bet that there will be things that will forever remain outside of our natural view, within the supernatural realm.

Thank you for demonstrating that you too really define the supernatural as the unknown. As that which we can't determine anything about. As opposed to an actual realm.

in the end I'll hold my original view that there is a difference between the natural and supernatural.

Believe as you will. It does suggest that you also believe that there are 'supernatural' realms, other realities.

And that raises another difficulty of course; how to breach that divide.

However, I do stand by what I originally said that the militant atheist ought to realize that some things ARE supernatural and thus there is no evidence and never will be any evidence supporting the existence of those things.

What exactly do you think a militant atheist is exactly?

No, as a rational human being; I do accept that there are things beyond my understanding, and even beyond the current understanding of all humans. And perhaps (I would think probably, but without conviction) some things always will remain so. But not that there ARE things that are "supernatural." None of the things typically referred to as such necessarily exist.

It is simply ridiculous to say BOTH that there will never be any evidence for them AND that they exist (that there ARE such things.)

But, that does not mean that those things do not exist. For the religious people out there, it doesn't mean you should assert they do exist either.

Never suggested otherwise. The range of things that are merely "possible" is simply huge. gods, fairies, dragons and unicorns might exist. Germany, which I have never seen in person might not.

So I'll now note that the reason why I was saying all of this earlier was because you implied to me that you thought that it was more likely true that this universe was NOT created.

Did I?

I guess that is the case in a way. Simply by applying the general rules of thumb for dealing with the evidence light. Occam's Razor and similar ideas suggest that one should not multiply entities beyond necessity. What this means is that the best course of action is to start with the simplest possibilities, those that include the least amount of addition of unknown entities (your 'god' and her computer for example), and only move on to those that require more additions when those with less have been sufficiently dismissed.

Practically by definition a less extraordinary claim/solution is more probable than a more extraordinary one. And adding in new entities increases the complexity, making it more extraordinary.

I thought that the presence of so many irrational religious explanations for conscious creations of this universe may have caused you to think that. And I think that that view is flawed. I do not see any more reason to think that the universe was not created than I see reason to think that it was created, or vice versa. Thus, I'm at about 50-50 right now if I was to gamble on the topic.

All those "irrational religious explanations" (one of which I once believed by the way) have led me to realise two things; humans are prone to imagining agency behind things; it's human nature. And all these previous beliefs have made us too prone to jumping to similar conclusions. Because "we have always thought that way" we tend to fall back on those ideas, no matter how flawed they may have been.

And you don't Really?! You think that intelligent causes are just as common as mindless ones?!

That seems unnecessary in my view. Even if the "bubbling" thing didn't exist and the total amount of energy did not average out to zero, I don't think that it would make a difference. It would still be quite possible that the universe could have formed out of nothingness without creation. If the Big Bang was just a non-created "what if there were a bunch of points with properties at this central point?" causing the average energy in the universe to be zero, I think there could also be a Universe #2 that could be a non-created "what if there were a bunch of points with properties at this point with a momentum in this direction?" causing the average energy of the universe to not be zero. (Note: Hopefully you can see past my terrible description of what our universe may be to see why I think that it wouldn't matter whether or not the net energy of the universe is zero or not... either way I think it would be plausible that the universe wasn't created).

Its not about necessary. It is the beginnings of how a universe could spring out of nothing, nothing else required.

The real beauty of that is that not only does in not require any added entities at all, but it also fits so well into understandings coming out of quantum mechanics - unlike gods and computer simulation containing realities, it has a basis in reality.

I don't understand. I have no idea which is more likely true and thus I am 50% confident that the first option is true and 50% confident that the second option is true.

I declared that the supernatural is "beyond investigation" as you say, because that's how I define "supernatural."

And yes, I declare that by definition there is no evidence of supernatural things.

Probability calculation? No, 50-50 isn't a calculation based on any knowledge I have. It is my statement that I am 50% confident that the universe was created and 50% confident that the universe was not created. The two must add to 100% because it was either created or it wasn't and I'm saying 50-50 because I have no idea which is more likely true than the other. If I had to guess whether or not the universe was created I wouldn't mind flipping a coin to decide my bet. That's what I'm saying. Is that still flawed as you said it was? If so, I still don't see what the flaw is. Could you please enlighten me?

Sure. By giving you a different False Dilemma to work with.

Either the universe is the product of a orange squirrel wearing slacks, and speaking in a Welsh accent, sneezing it up after inhaling white pepper, OR it was not. As you "have no idea which is more likely true than the other" do you then set the probabilities at 50-50?!

It's not a coin flip, because you have no coin. A coin flip is 50-50 because you KNOW that the odds are equal, and that there are only two possibilities.

Suggesting that the odds for or against a creator or not is 50-50 is to suggest that the probability that the universe was actually created by an intelligent agent is pretty darn good. That out of the literally infinite number of possibilities; all or the non creator-being-created possibilities COMBINED are no more likely that a creator. Thus the creator hypothesis is.

It is similar (but to an even greater extreme) of giving 50-50 odds for a letter of the alphabet picked being either A or Not-A.

I think that you, perhaps unwittingly, are giving one specific possibility far too much credence, by packing them into those two categories.

BUT created or not actually involves either any of the limited number of possibilities that include a creator and creation, or ANYTHING else. Rationally that latter category ("or not") would be a far far larger pool of options.

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You're right, I think I did imply that it was between a "creator" and "out of nothing," but I didn't mean to imply that. In my mind I was thinking "created" and "not created" where "created" wasn't necessarily a conscious, intentionally creation (i.e. a god). Thus, as far as I can see, those are the only two options; either the universe was created or it wasn't.

In that fashion there ARE two possibilities.

Of course one can play that on any subject by any division:

I am either a 13 year old girl, with red hair, blue eyes, a limp and asthma OR I am not.

The two are hardly equal though, are they? Sone has to be extremely careful when devising such dilemmas.

It reminds me of a little joke:

There are two kinds of people in the world; those that separate people into two groups and those that don't.

Now back to the origin of the universe. Either the universe had a beginning or it did not.

If it did then it either had a cause for that beginning or it did not.

If it did then that causation was either a creation (in a way that that has any meaning beyond mere causation) or it did not...

Try CAUSED instead of Created.

Well the "odds" are just how likely it is that each option is true based on the data we have. If we have absolute knowledge/data then the odds are going to be 100-0 in favor of the correct option. Because I have no data on this subject, I think that my "odds" of 50-50 are correct. Until I get some knowledge on the supernatural, I think my lack of data causes my odds to be 50-50. I'm no more confident that one option is true than the other. Why would the odds be unknown? The odds are expression of what you do know. I don't know anything so 50-50 are my odds. Why would this be wrong?

I suppose.

But be aware that in saying that, you will be leading many to think that you find the idea of a creator (a BEING that created the universe on purpose) to be quite plausible.

I think it better to simply admit that with no information there is no sense in taking ANY position, not even one of probability assessment.

This is exactly what I have been disagreeing with you on. In this quoted paragraph I see the major flaw that I've been talking about(I see it as a flaw in your thinking still. Let's figure out if you're really wrong).

The lack of evidence for a supernatural thing creating the universe causes you to consider that possibility less than the possibility that "out of nothing" is true because there IS some evidence that "out of nothing" is a real contender. Why though? I've already explained why there are things that exist that we have no evidence for and never can have any evidence for. Yet you are dismissing the possibility as less likely than the "out of nothing" possibility once again simply because of the lack of evidence to support the supernatural possibility. But, I've already told you that we shouldn't expect there to ever be any evidence to support the "created" explanation because by definition this supernatural stuff is out of reach of our natural selves.

Its terribly simple:

We have two possibilities in question here.

One has a very limited amount of rational and evidential support (quantum mechanics of 'nothing' )

One has nothing at all, and you don't even think such support could ever be found.

If that is the case then the former "wins" hands down. In fact infinitely more; because even the tiniest fraction above zero is infinitely greater than zero.

And you keep saying "history of belief" and "fanciful notions." Remember, I'm not religious. I don't have a desire to believe that a magical god dude created the universe. I'm just saying that I think that it is unknowable as far as I currently know (meaning my current knowledge suggests that the "created" answer is in the supernatural realm and thus out of our range of discovery no matter what.... the "god" or "created" answer may turn out to not be in the "supernatural" realm after all and thus it might be possible that there is evidence to support the "created" explanation, but as far as I'm aware now, I don't expect there to be any evidence to be discovered to support a "created" explanation.) and that your implied assertion that it is more likely true that "out of nothing" is true than "created" is true is flawed. I'm 50-50 and you're 50+-50- in favor of "out of nothing" over "created", judging by the quoted paragraph above (and here: "So there is some, albeit confusing, evidence and reasoning to support "something out of nothing" as a real contender at the very least.

"a creator did it" however has nothing real behind it at all.").

And I never said YOUR fanciful notions. All I am doing is highlighting the vapidity of the notions that are suggested.

For example your computer analogy is a possibility, but even you realise that it is nothing more than a fanciful notion nonetheless.

Flawed? So you deny that there is rational and scientific support for an "out of nothing" scenario, but none for a creator one?

And no; I don't even pretend that probabilities are appropriate in this area. But there are some reasons to lean in some directions. The history of science shows a trend of increased complexity, of the more complex coming from the less. Suggesting that the best place to look for the ultimate cause of the universe, if there even was one, is a simple/non-complex explanation. It may not be of course, but that is always the case for any unknown

Do you see what I'm saying? Do you see the flaw that I'm trying to point out? You implied you're 50+-50- in favor of "out of nothing" over "created" because you have some knowledge/evidence/reason to support "out of nothing" but you don't have anything to support "created." I think that's flawed though, as I explained above. Do you agree now or not? Why?

No I don't. As above.

It is not so much that I find out of nothing more probable, just that that general direction is the better direction to investigate first.

You of course have implied the same, as your assertions as to what is impossible to decern suggest that searching in that direction would be a colossal waste of time.

I disagree again. Rather than me saying that a specific castle exists (that's what many religious people assert), I am asserting that a castle may exist or a castle may not exist and I have no reason to think that it is more likely true that a castle exists than a castle doesn't exist or vice versa. Thus, I am still 50% confident that a castle exists and 50% confident that a castle does not exist. I'm close to 0% confident that the Christian Castle exists. How is this flawed? I still don't understand why you think it is.

It's flawed because it sounds much more like you have NO confidence in either.

But then 50% confidence is quite a different thing than placing the odds at something being 50% however.

Probability goes from 0% (impossible) through 50% (as likely to be true as false) to 100% (definite.)

Conviction goes from -100% (impossible = 100% confidence of its falsity) through 0% (no confidence in its truth - says nothing about it's falsity) to 100% (conviction.)

A 50% confidence in something is a fair amount of confidence.

I've said "created" and "out of nothing" as including all possibilities. You just mentioned "no beginning" which I would say is included in "out of nothing" (which is just called "not created" earlier). Basically, either the universe was created either intentionally or not intentionally ("created") or else it was "not created" meaning that it formed "out of nothing" or has simply "always been" without beginning. So the title "out of nothing" may have made it seem like I wasn't including all possibilities, but in my mind, again, I think I am. Either the universe was created or it wasn't. I have no reason to think that one is more likely true than the other and so my confidence is still 50-50. Do you still think this is flawed?

Your own definitions is one thing that has confused this greatly.

"Out of nothing" is a specific possibility, but you used it to mean absolutely anything other than creation, which you also chose to define in a wide manner. Making a mess of the whole thing.

It seems now that you actually mean the universe either had a cause or it did not. This too is vague as some possibilities one can be such that one could argue into which camp they fit.

I do think that sometimes (often) it is a not a good idea to attach probabilities unless enough is known abut the range of possibilities to warrant that (for example we know enough about a fair six sided dice.)

Nor a good idea to stuff possibilities into two conflicting options (either X or not-X) without some understanding if what is contained within each.

On the universe I would say that we just don't know. And we don't even have the science yet to even come up with very strong hypotheses. But there are a number of interesting ideas that have come through scientific examination that at least give us reason to look into them more closely. No odds, no suggestins that it was either this or that.

Again :( , can't I come up with the 50-50 confidence even without any data if the two options include all possibilities? Either the universe was created or it wasn't. I'm 50% confident that it was created and 50% confident that it wasn't created.

Again no. Well you can, but then people can believe in fairies too. ;)

Why would you express ANY confidence in something on which you have no data?!

And if there are infinite possibilities (because being beyond all known physics there is nothing we can rule out) then with no data, each and every possibility should be deemed equally and infinitely implausible. Each possibility is also infinitely unlikely compared to the collection of all other possibilities.

What you don't seem to understand, is that 50% odds and 50% confidence are both pretty strong positions of probability and conviction. I do understand what you seem to be thinking, it's just that such statistical labels do not really represent what you are trying to convey with them. (It kind of reminds me of when I read someone expressing some considerable pride when his IQ came out as 99 - as if he thought that meant near perfect.)

Oh no, after repeating myself several times I'm finally coming to realize that I think you may have just said that my 50-50 was a flaw because you interpreted what I was saying as the two options not being the only two options. This is when communication can take a lot longer when using online forums.

That, and that applying probabilities in this is inappropriate to begin with. First you lump things into X or not-X boxes, with no understanding at all as to the resulting sizes or shapes of the two boxes (is there more Xs or not-Xs? etc.) Then you apply odds based on no data whatsoever. There are no default odds; it doesn't start out at 50-50, it starts at having no clue.

Is there any evidence that dragons exist some universe somewhere (not in this universe or a "greater" universe, but in some other universe that you can imagine)? No. But, do I think that such a dragon exists? Yes. I think that everything exists... not necessarily in this universe or in a universe that can affect this universe at all or is at all related to this universe, but somewhere... somewhere of no significance to us whatsoever, I think dragons exist. I think that this view is rational as well, but that's unrelated to this long mess above.

So you do believe in things without any reason to do so?!

And that baseless belief informs your actions to some degree. It is probably why you find other empty claims and notions plausible.

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Thank you for demonstrating that you too really define the supernatural as the unknown. As that which we can't determine anything about. As opposed to an actual realm.

But it is an actual realm! From the perspective of the god, the god can easily determine what things are and always will be completely unknown to the beings in the god's universe. So this permanently-forever-unknown realm is the supernatural realm from the perspective of the beings in the god's universe. And those beings can never learn anything about that realm. What use is the word supernatural if not to describe this forever-unknowable realm? You're using it to simply say things that are currently unknown, but if that is the case we might as well just use the word unknown. It has been my understanding that "supernatural" refers to things that are sufficiently out of our possible-reach (within the "greater universe") that we can never know anything about that realm from our natural universe.

Believe as you will. It does suggest that you also believe that there are 'supernatural' realms, other realities.

And that raises another difficulty of course; how to breach that divide.

I think it's just because I still define supernatural differently than you. And I think (I don't know, but I have enough reason to make me confident enough to make a bet) there are also other realities that are completely independent of our own reality (e.g. the one with the dragon) and thus we wouldn't be able to breach the divide. Whether there are "parallel universes" that are related to our own universe or not, I don't know.

What exactly do you think a militant atheist is exactly?

The person who always dismisses things that don't have any evidence to support their existence despite the fact that we shouldn't expect there to be any evidence to support their existence. If you were to create a universe, you could be certain that their are things in existence in this universe that the folks in your created universe can never know anything about. Thus, these things in this universe that exist in the supernatural realm from the perspective of the folks in your universe do in fact exist, despite the fact that their is no evidence to support their existence from the perspective of the folks in your universe.

You said that, for example, the bookshelves in my bedroom are, "As far as they [(the people in the universe that I created)] are concerned; they don't exist. Because they have absolutely nothing to suggest that they do." But, the bookshelves in my bedroom do exist. So why would the people in the computer universe that I created say that they don't exist. For all they know, they could exist. They have just as much reason to say that such things as my bookshelf do exist as they have reason to say that they don't exist. So, the people in the computer universe can pretend that the bookshelves in my room don't exist because it would be of no value to them to say that they do exist, but they're really just pretending that, because in reality they have no reason to think that they don't exist.

It is simply ridiculous to say BOTH that there will never be any evidence for them AND that they exist (that there ARE such things.

I disagree. I don't know anything specifically about any of these things that lack evidence obviously, but I can still assert rationally that there are things in general that exist that we don't have any evidence to support.

Tell me: If you had to make a guess, would you guess that our universe is the only thing in existence or would you guess that there are other universes and other realities in existence that are completely unrelated and unconnected to our universe?

You'll probably just say that you don't know because you don't have any evidence to support either answer, but I'm just asking you to take a guess based on reasoning.

Wouldn't it be strange if our universe was the only universe in existence? I'm not talking about parallel universes or anything like that. I'm talking about completely unrelated universes. Just things that exist all on their own in the same way that our universe (and possibly the larger superstructure "greater" universe that our universe may be contained in) exists all by itself. It only seems reasonable to me that if our universe can exist then other universes must exist as well. I would even go as far as saying that it makes more sense to think that every possible universe exists in infinite variety an infinite number of times than to think that our universe is the only universe in existence.

The range of things that are merely "possible" is simply huge. gods, fairies, dragons and unicorns might exist.

I'm not talking about them existing in our universe. Obviously the evidence suggests that magical fairies most likely do not exist in our universe. I'm talking about things existing in general... in universes other than our own. Don't you think there is reason to think that there is stuff in existence other than the stuff in our universe? Don't you think that other universes exist? Why in the world would our universe (i.e. our universe / the possible parallel universes / other universes that are part of the possible "greater" universe that we could possibly be a part of) be the only universe in existence? Do you get what I'm saying?

Did I?

I guess that is the case in a way. Simply by applying the general rules of thumb for dealing with the evidence light. Occam's Razor and similar ideas suggest that one should not multiply entities beyond necessity. What this means is that the best course of action is to start with the simplest possibilities, those that include the least amount of addition of unknown entities (your 'god' and her computer for example), and only move on to those that require more additions when those with less have been sufficiently dismissed.

Practically by definition a less extraordinary claim/solution is more probable than a more extraordinary one. And adding in new entities increases the complexity, making it more extraordinary.

Let's say I create a computer universe again. The beings in my universe think like you and decide that because they have no evidence to suggest that I exist then they might as well conclude that it is more probable that their universe wasn't created than it is probable that their universe was created. Well, guess what, their universe was created! Occam's Razor helped them dismiss me as less likely than non-creation despite the fact that I did create their universe!

And you don't Really?! You think that intelligent causes are just as common as mindless ones?!

I never said that. You quoted me as saying, "I do not see any more reason to think that the universe was not created than I see reason to think that it was created, or vice versa." "Created" does not mean intelligent creationism or creation by design or whatever. It just means that something in existence created our unvierse, whether it was an intentional or unintentional creation. It's the other half of "non-created" which is either no beginning or beginning without having been created.

Its not about necessary. It is the beginnings of how a universe could spring out of nothing, nothing else required.

The real beauty of that is that not only does in not require any added entities at all, but it also fits so well into understandings coming out of quantum mechanics - unlike gods and computer simulation containing realities, it has a basis in reality.

I can imagine a world very similar to our own, however, with a gravitational constant that is different. If our own universe sprung out of "nothingness" then did the gravitational constant spring out of nothingness too? I don't think that what you're talking about is how something can come from nothing. I think you're talking about how the present-day universe could possibly have come from the point of singularity at the beginning of the Big Bang. I still think that it would be just as possible for a universe with a net energy not equal to zero to have sprung out of nothing than for a universe with a net energy of zero to spring out of nothing.

It reminds me of a little joke:

There are two kinds of people in the world; those that separate people into two groups and those that don't.

:)

I suppose.

But be aware that in saying that, you will be leading many to think that you find the idea of a creator (a BEING that created the universe on purpose) to be quite plausible.

I think it better to simply admit that with no information there is no sense in taking ANY position, not even one of probability assessment.

Maybe I should do that. They're really the same thing, but I think you're right: stating 50-50 confidence (a way of not taking a position) does seem to suggest that I think that the "god" thing is quite plausible.

About the squirrel "false dilemma." I think I do have reason to think that the squirrel god is more likely to not exist than to exist. Do I have reason to think that the universe wasn't created more than I have reason to think that it was created? I still don't see that reason. So I still think that 50-50 confidence is a fine expression of my confidence about which is true. However, I think you're right. It is better to just say "I don't know" rather to put that "I don't know" into a 50-50. Okay, new subject. I don't think it was flawed still, but I don't think it would be more useful to say 50-50 now than to say "I don't know" so I'll go with your thinking and simply say I don't know whether or not the universe was created.

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Its terribly simple:

We have two possibilities in question here.

One has a very limited amount of rational and evidential support (quantum mechanics of 'nothing' )

One has nothing at all, and you don't even think such support could ever be found.

If that is the case then the former "wins" hands down. In fact infinitely more; because even the tiniest fraction above zero is infinitely greater than zero.

Fine, one more thing on this topic. If there are really big awesome complex universes in existence that are capable of creating many universes(which I would say there is reason to think that there is), then the many created universes that are part of this "greater" universe outnumber the single "greater" universe that either was created or was not created. I would say there is reason to think that such universes exist and thus there is some reason to think that it is plausible that this universe was created by a "greater" universe. So I wouldn't say "One has nothing at all, and you don't even think such support could ever be found." It does have something: Not evidence, but reason. The reasoning is that I don't think this universe is the only universe in existence. So assuming there are other universes in the existence (an assumption I would totally make) and assuming that many of these universes also create other universes, then I think it's plausible that this universe could be one of those creations of another universe.

For example your computer analogy is a possibility, but even you realise that it is nothing more than a fanciful notion nonetheless.

Flawed? So you deny that there is rational and scientific support for an "out of nothing" scenario, but none for a creator one?

I wouldn't dismiss the computer analogy as another fanciful notion. It's meant to symbolize the general possibility that this universe could really just be something created by something else in another universe.

I would deny that. I think there is reason to think that this universe may have been created by something else (either intentionally or unintentionally). I already explained to you that I think that by the nature of this universe being created by something else we likely wouldn't have any evidence that we were created. We only have reason to suggest the possibility. And by the nature of an "out of nothing" explanation, I'm not surprised that there is some evidence. I'm still not sure what that evidence is though. For all I know, something in another universe could have created that unstable "nothingness" that would in turn give rise to the present universe. So I still wouldn't say that "out of nothing" (i.e. non-created) is more probable than (created) and I would still say that that is what you are implying and I would still say that you thinking that is flawed. But, we've gone over this enough and I don't think there's any point in going further with it. The conflict seems to be mainly definitions and "I don't know" probability. I think 50-50 confidence for "I don't know", but I'll go with you from now on to avoid confusion with numbers and just say "I don't know."

Conviction goes from -100% (impossible = 100% confidence of its falsity) through 0% (no confidence in its truth - says nothing about it's falsity) to 100% (conviction.)

A 50% confidence in something is a fair amount of confidence.

Well I was treating it on the same scale as probability, not that.

quote name='ADParker' date='16 May 2010 - 06:52 AM' timestamp='1274007130' post='228502']

Your own definitions is one thing that has confused this greatly.

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But it is an actual realm! From the perspective of the god, the god can easily determine what things are and always will be completely unknown to the beings in the god's universe. So this permanently-forever-unknown realm is the supernatural realm from the perspective of the beings in the god's universe. And those beings can never learn anything about that realm. What use is the word supernatural if not to describe this forever-unknowable realm? You're using it to simply say things that are currently unknown, but if that is the case we might as well just use the word unknown. It has been my understanding that "supernatural" refers to things that are sufficiently out of our possible-reach (within the "greater universe") that we can never know anything about that realm from our natural universe.

In other words unknown, but so unknown that we will never know. Something beyond the limits that we don;t even know if we have. Do we have any limits? If so what are they? People have made declarations about our limits before, only to watch as others proceeded to exceed them.

And yes, I "agree," we should just use the word "unknown." Supernatural is a religious clobber word.

I think it's just because I still define supernatural differently than you. And I think (I don't know, but I have enough reason to make me confident enough to make a bet) there are also other realities that are completely independent of our own reality (e.g. the one with the dragon) and thus we wouldn't be able to breach the divide. Whether there are "parallel universes" that are related to our own universe or not, I don't know.

As you don't seem to have any interest in explaining what these reasons are, for you thinking there other realities, that they are completely independent of this one, and that one of them has a dragon in it, I see no point in discussing that any further.

The person who always dismisses things that don't have any evidence to support their existence despite the fact that we shouldn't expect there to be any evidence to support their existence.

Oh so NOT any of the people I have seen referred to as Militant Atheists then.

I don't see how "we shouldn't expect there to be any evidence to support their existence" adds anything though.

The only difference that would makes is that, as we have no reason/evidence to support there existence, we shouldn't believe they do exist. And as we shouldn't expect there to be any evidence to support their existence, we shouldn't waste our time looking for any, and should not expect to ever have any reason to believe that they exist.

If you were to create a universe, you could be certain that their are things in existence in this universe that the folks in your created universe can never know anything about. Thus, these things in this universe that exist in the supernatural realm from the perspective of the folks in your universe do in fact exist, despite the fact that their is no evidence to support their existence from the perspective of the folks in your universe.

Um okay. So they shouldn't.

You said that, for example, the bookshelves in my bedroom are, "As far as they [(the people in the universe that I created)] are concerned; they don't exist. Because they have absolutely nothing to suggest that they do." But, the bookshelves in my bedroom do exist. So why would the people in the computer universe that I created say that they don't exist. For all they know, they could exist. They have just as much reason to say that such things as my bookshelf do exist as they have reason to say that they don't exist. So, the people in the computer universe can pretend that the bookshelves in my room don't exist because it would be of no value to them to say that they do exist, but they're really just pretending that, because in reality they have no reason to think that they don't exist.

Um no. That is not how it works, not for rational people anyway.

As far as they would be concerned, existing or not, they might as well be said not to exist, as they play no part in their reality.

Should they say they don't exist? No, they should say that they have absolutely no reason to think that they do exist.

They have no reason whatsoever to say that they do (as you assert) - because they have absolutely nothing to lead them to such a conclusion.

They do have some reason to say they don't exist, if by exist they mean manifests in (their) reality. Because as far as they are concerned, nothing else is of any possible consequence. This is a layman way of making truth claims, based on of evidence but a total lack of evidence. For all intents and purposes (that is outside of hard philosophy) one can say that if there is no evidence/reason to support a truth claim, that the claim is false.

I have taken too much philosophy however so I tend to stick to the more rigorous "I see no reason to accept that claim" and then proceed to live my life as if that claim is not true.

I disagree. I don't know anything specifically about any of these things that lack evidence obviously, but I can still assert rationally that there are things in general that exist that we don't have any evidence to support.

Well sure. But not anything even remotely specific, including other 'realms' or the "supernatural" as you define it.

Tell me: If you had to make a guess, would you guess that our universe is the only thing in existence or would you guess that there are other universes and other realities in existence that are completely unrelated and unconnected to our universe?

I don't have to make a guess, I am comfortable with accepting that some things are such that having no opinion is the better option. If I HAD to make a guess (was forced) I would just make any old shite up, so of what possible value would that be to anyone/ So don't bother trying to force me to pick a side folks. :lol:

Other universes? I don't know, you would have to provide a rigorous definition of "universe" first.

Completely unrelated though? No I doubt that. No multiverse hypothesis (of any of the four levels) suggest that. But as we know practically nothing about such things, who knows?

Multiverse hypotheses do have their value though, the rid us of some of the things that otherwise demand some kind of explanation. For instance "Why is the universe as it is?" If there are a multitude (or infinite amount) of other universes (settings) with different variables, then the question becomes rather moot.

You'll probably just say that you don't know because you don't have any evidence to support either answer, but I'm just asking you to take a guess based on reasoning.

And what reasoning sometimes tells you is: "Insufficient data."

Give a computer such a problem, it could not give a lousy answer, it couldn't make the calculation at all!

Wouldn't it be strange if our universe was the only universe in existence? I'm not talking about parallel universes or anything like that. I'm talking about completely unrelated universes. Just things that exist all on their own in the same way that our universe (and possibly the larger superstructure "greater" universe that our universe may be contained in) exists all by itself. It only seems reasonable to me that if our universe can exist then other universes must exist as well. I would even go as far as saying that it makes more sense to think that every possible universe exists in infinite variety an infinite number of times than to think that our universe is the only universe in existence.

Who says that our universe, or the multiverse you call "greater" universe (that is one level of multiverse hypotheses) exists all by itself? How could you possibly know that?!

Strange?! I have no idea. No known physics or anything touches such areas as of yet. But even right here we have Quantum mechanics; now THAT is strange indeed! How much stranger might the multiverse be?! :wacko:

And in that strangeness who is to say what is and is not "normal"? And that is the problem, we can't affix any probabilities to something so far beyond our grasp. It would be like playing a game, without knowing any of the rules, where it is to be played, or even if there is a game going on or not.

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I'm not talking about them existing in our universe. Obviously the evidence suggests that magical fairies most likely do not exist in our universe.

They might though. That is the weakness of mere possibility.

I'm talking about things existing in general... in universes other than our own. Don't you think there is reason to think that there is stuff in existence other than the stuff in our universe?

No. There is reason to ponder the possibility, the interesting idea, even to investigate if possible (and of course to investigate if it is possible to find out) but not to think that any of it is in fact true.

Don't you think that other universes exist?

No. Nor do I think that they do not.

I try not to take sides, affix opinions to that which I know next to nothing about.

Why in the world would our universe (i.e. our universe / the possible parallel universes / other universes that are part of the possible "greater" universe that we could possibly be a part of) be the only universe in existence? Do you get what I'm saying?

Yes. And the answer is that I have no idea. I too like the idea of the multiverse (of all varieties) and see that there are some (slim) reasons (in physics) to think that they are possibilities well worth exploring.

Let's say I create a computer universe again. The beings in my universe think like you and decide that because they have no evidence to suggest that I exist then they might as well conclude that it is more probable that their universe wasn't created than it is probable that their universe was created. Well, guess what, their universe was created! Occam's Razor helped them dismiss me as less likely than non-creation despite the fact that I did create their universe!

Yup. So?

Well actually no, not really. You don't DISMISS hypotheses that fall to the razor, you put them aside in order to investigate those that do not - as they provide the best opportunity for testing. You yourself have gone on about how investigating the supernatural would be a complete waste of time, as nothing could ever be found.

If all such "contenders" failed, then the razor would again be applied to what's left (and any new ideas of course - often found through investigating others.) Finally either a lead contender may be drawn out; the Prime theory, or none will, leaving us in the position of "we don't know." Any good scientist knows of course that even then, either way, the search never stops.

I never said that. You quoted me as saying, "I do not see any more reason to think that the universe was not created than I see reason to think that it was created, or vice versa." "Created" does not mean intelligent creationism or creation by design or whatever. It just means that something in existence created our unvierse, whether it was an intentional or unintentional creation. It's the other half of "non-created" which is either no beginning or beginning without having been created.

Causation, not creation, is better then. Unless you WANT the Faith-heads to jump to stupid conclusions, because I've seen it too many times.

I can imagine a world very similar to our own, however, with a gravitational constant that is different. If our own universe sprung out of "nothingness" then did the gravitational constant spring out of nothingness too? I don't think that what you're talking about is how something can come from nothing. I think you're talking about how the present-day universe could possibly have come from the point of singularity at the beginning of the Big Bang. I still think that it would be just as possible for a universe with a net energy not equal to zero to have sprung out of nothing than for a universe with a net energy of zero to spring out of nothing.

Not the singularity (much disputed now with quantum mechanics) but that the energy contained in the 'singularity' being amassed from the zero point energy of quantum fluctuations (the scientific equivalent of 'Nothing') possibly (and this IS wild conjecture) building up to some kind of critical mass, sparking off the rapid expansion even known as the big bang.

Sure this could potentially (by some means) lead to an unbalanced universe with a non-zero net energy, positive OR negative. Although (just because it's interesting) this little scenario does lead to a neat explanation for why our universe balances out at zero - not in an absolute sense of it being a necessary consequence, but a likely one.

Maybe I should do that. They're really the same thing, but I think you're right: stating 50-50 confidence (a way of not taking a position) does seem to suggest that I think that the "god" thing is quite plausible.

Mathematically it isn't that bad. But is is certainly something that would lead some astray.

I take it you are not a gambler. Because the average gambler would consider 2:1 odds (50-50) to be pretty darn good in many cases! :lol:

And might well take the "created" bet. And then having brought up in a society dominated by the concept of "creator" being equated to a god of some sort (even if raised as a believer or not) rapidly lean and slide in that direction.

About the squirrel "false dilemma." I think I do have reason to think that the squirrel god is more likely to not exist than to exist. Do I have reason to think that the universe wasn't created more than I have reason to think that it was created? I still don't see that reason. So I still think that 50-50 confidence is a fine expression of my confidence about which is true. However, I think you're right. It is better to just say "I don't know" rather to put that "I don't know" into a 50-50. Okay, new subject. I don't think it was flawed still, but I don't think it would be more useful to say 50-50 now than to say "I don't know" so I'll go with your thinking and simply say I don't know whether or not the universe was created.

Cool. More about a confusion of terms (between us) and the fact that using concepts such as "created" and odds of 50-50 are liable to lead many people to faulty conclusions.

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Fine, one more thing on this topic. If there are really big awesome complex universes in existence that are capable of creating many universes(which I would say there is reason to think that there is), then the many created universes that are part of this "greater" universe outnumber the single "greater" universe that either was created or was not created. I would say there is reason to think that such universes exist and thus there is some reason to think that it is plausible that this universe was created by a "greater" universe. So I wouldn't say "One has nothing at all, and you don't even think such support could ever be found." It does have something: Not evidence, but reason. The reasoning is that I don't think this universe is the only universe in existence. So assuming there are other universes in the existence (an assumption I would totally make) and assuming that many of these universes also create other universes, then I think it's plausible that this universe could be one of those creations of another universe.

That you have a certain opinion isn't a reason, it's not supporting reasoning. That would have to be the reasons why you are of that opinion, if they themselves are rational. ;)

As for the rest; too many "If"s. That leaves any subsequent reasoning to be based on nothing but a thought experiment

I would deny that. I think there is reason to think that this universe may have been created by something else (either intentionally or unintentionally). I already explained to you that I think that by the nature of this universe being created by something else we likely wouldn't have any evidence that we were created. We only have reason to suggest the possibility. And by the nature of an "out of nothing" explanation, I'm not surprised that there is some evidence. I'm still not sure what that evidence is though. For all I know, something in another universe could have created that unstable "nothingness" that would in turn give rise to the present universe. So I still wouldn't say that "out of nothing" (i.e. non-created) is more probable than (created) and I would still say that that is what you are implying and I would still say that you thinking that is flawed. But, we've gone over this enough and I don't think there's any point in going further with it. The conflict seems to be mainly definitions and "I don't know" probability. I think 50-50 confidence for "I don't know", but I'll go with you from now on to avoid confusion with numbers and just say "I don't know."

Note how "created" implies a creator being, "intentionally" directly does so (a being capable of the mental process of intent), and so to does "unintentionally" (implies the creator has intent but did not use it in this instance. We speak of a person doing something unintentionally, but not a rock, for example.)

The "something out of nothing" possibility (taken deliberately from the creationist assertion that this is impossible, by the way) I refer to is not your "not created" box of possibilities, but something more refined: The ideas from quantum physics that 'nothing' is actually more like the zero point energy state of quantum fluctuations, and that as the physicist Frank Wilczek put it

"The answer to the ancient question 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' would then be that 'nothing' is unstable." leading to 'Nothing' collapsing into 'something' (~65% of the time according to one model.)

It's all based on confusing (and extremely counter intuitive quantum mechanics) but it is there.

Oh good! Well then let's just stop it at this and I'll stop trying to express "I don't know" with numbers. Thanks for being so patient with my miscommunications and misunderstandings.

:D

Sometimes the real problem and points of argument are not with the positions, but how one expresses them.

Reminds me of a time in Med school (Army medic training, not the doctor kind ;) ) where two people were arguing heatedly over some mathematics (to do with some IV things or other.) And they had started to just yell at each other. When I (through the laughter) pointed out to then that they were both arguing on the same side! It was only how they were each putting it that caused the confusion and argument. :lol:

Perhaps I should look up the definition of plausible.

Plausible-having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable: a plausible excuse; a plausible plot.

Oh dang! That's not what I meant. Here, let me define plausible:

Plausible-possible, but not an absurdly unlikely possible like the possible in: "I suppose it's possible that there's a flying purple hippo in your basement, but I highly doubt it." So I should have been saying "quite possible". Sorry about that. :(

Quite possible is generally a bit like plausible actually (I think) but I take it you mean merely possible, but not some stupidly inane absurdity. Basically no supporting evidence, but not plain daft either (like my squirrel origin story. :P )

As I have argued (with theists mainly) over such topics, it has become something of a neccessity to have somewhat strict definitions to work from. For me there is a scale:

Possible: (anything as long as it doesn't violate rules of logic and mathematics - a very limited and purely conceptual set.)

Plausible: Has at least something, evidence/reasoning going for it. But not enough to say it is likely to be true.

Probable: Has enough supporting it that there might be reason to think it true, unless a competing idea has even more.

No. I don't believe in things without any reason to do so. And I don't "believe" that dragons exist. I just think that it is quite possible that they do exist because I have reason (it's not evidence, but it is reason) to think that it's quite possible that they exist. If our universe can exist then I think it makes sense that other universes can exist. That's the reasoning for saying that it's quite possible that fire-breathing dragons exist in other universes. If I was saying that it's "quite possible" that dragons exist in this universe, then that would merit you saying I believe in things without reason. But, I'm not. I'm talking about the other universes that I think it is quite possible exist.

That's fine.

I personally would be careful (just something I was thinking about just a minute ago - while in the shower, not that you need to know that :P ) about putting too much stock on other universes existing. We had good reason to think that there are other planets around other stars (now we know - Cool!) because of not just the existence of our own, but some limited understanding of the conditions in which it is set, and those conditions existing throughout the universe. Unfortunately we don't really have ANY understanding of the conditions (if any) in which is universe is set, nor if those conditions extend to anywhere else - so we can't infer from that any real plausibility of other universes existing.

Man I love the idea though. And I do think that we do have enough to render it something worth looking into seriously (even though I fully accept that one of those reasons may be or ignorance of conditions that preclude the possibility.)

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@ADParker: Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds that you are saying that using Reason is the best way to go about going through life and making decisions?

I might post more depending on A) your answer, and B) I don't forget what I was going to say.

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@ADParker: Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds that you are saying that using Reason is the best way to go about going through life and making decisions?

I might post more depending on A) your answer, and B) I don't forget what I was going to say.

I do indeed.

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Ok then. First off, whose reasoning should we use, since reasoning differs between people and constantly changes.

Second, let's use this example.

Let's say you (general you) are in a Texas hold-em tournament (don't personally think gambling is a good thing, just think that it is a good example for what I am trying to say) and you make it to the final heads-up. You and your opponent are about even in money and have been playing a while. You are dealt a 2-8 offsuit, (reason says fold right?) your opponent bets heavy since he has A-A. you decide to call anyways, the flop goes 2-2-2, giving you four of a kind, you go all in and end up winning the tournament and a couple million dollars.

I hope that example conveys why you cannot always use reason and logic to make the best decisions. While luck was involved, it something that happens in poker all the time (as well as real life), where you have a hand that should not be played and wind up winning the pot or even the tournament (an example, Doyle Brunson won the World Series of Poker two years in a row with a 10-2 hand (not a very good hand)). While reason is good to use and should definitely be taken into account when deciding on stuff, it is not always the best option.

May be a bad example, but I think that it kind of gets my point across.

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Ok then. First off, whose reasoning should we use, since reasoning differs between people and constantly changes.

There is no fixed reasoning set. It is not some kind of on high set of rules. No "Authority of Reason" to look up, and bow down, to.

Reasoning is the mental faculty of assessing data. This includes evidence obtained (directly or indirectly) through the many senses (the famous five and a few more) as well as through purely mental activities of imagination and emotion. All tied together by careful critical thinking.

The great thing about reason, is that it is a dynamic and progressive progress. IF one works at it one becomes even better at reasoning things through. One prime key to that is practice. Arguing on forms like this is excellent for that (and arguing against creationists is simply brilliant for honing the Logical fallacy detection skills, I can tell you! :lol: )

Reason is a human endeavour, and it would be a mistake to think that any one person (or group, society) has it all worked out (and the height of hubris to assume that oneself has!) Perfect reasoning would require perfect information anyway.

So whose reasoning? Why no one's in particular. Since reasoning is difficult process, especially was we are faced with more and more information and data to process, (this is a double edged sword; on the one hand more information tends to lead to more reliable results, on the other it has come so that no one person can hope to contain, let alone process it all) we should make every effort to take what we can from the reasoning done by others, past and present, and work from that as well.

We also have other beneficial "short cuts: if you will; science for instance is dominated by what is known as the scientific process. Once you come to understand how that process works (including peer review, competition and prestige earned through not only discovery but uncovering the flaws in the work of others, and ones on work as well!) one can learn (although still with care) to rely on, have some good confidence in, that which comes out of science (NOT the word of any individual who happens to be a scientist, or even expert in a given field though) without the need to learn all that is neccessary to truly understand the work, or come up with the results oneself. On top of that of course we can also learn by looking at the results (planes do fly, so clearly the work on aeronautics, aviation and so on, must have some merit - as an example.)

Second, let's use this example.

Let's say you (general you)

No need for that "general you" in a thought experiment Framm 18. ;)

In fact I pretty much have to imagine it is me in this case.

are in a Texas hold-em tournament (don't personally think gambling is a good thing, just think that it is a good example for what I am trying to say) and you make it to the final heads-up. You and your opponent are about even in money and have been playing a while. You are dealt a 2-8 offsuit, (reason says fold right?) your opponent bets heavy since he has A-A. you decide to call anyways, the flop goes 2-2-2, giving you four of a kind, you go all in and end up winning the tournament and a couple million dollars.

Yay me? But so what? Who ever said that my reasoning skills are perfect. By which I don't mean prone to reasoning poorly (although that is of course a very real possibility) but that it necessarily always leads to the best results. Especially not in less that perfect data, even if one could process it all.

"Best way to go about going through life and making decisions" != Perfect.

(!= is a way of writing "does not equal" for those who may be wondering. ;) )

I don't gamble, and poker bores me. But I did see the end of a game on TV a while back (switched it on and saw that it was the very end of a major tournament, so what the hel eh?)

Anyway: It was down to two, and this guy had a couple of great cards (a pair of aces I think), and the visible others looked promising, The other guy had (I think) a pair of queens. So we knew, even if neither player did. That 'our guy' would be best served by going all in based on what he knew (the expert commentators agreed) AND if he knew his opponents hand; had even MORE reason to do so.

So; he did just that. They cards were flipped. And wouldn't you know it, the other gut got a third to his pair. And one the lot.

EVERYONE agreed, expert observers and players, that 'our' guy made absolutely the best possible moves, given the finite and well known rules and probabilities of that particular style of poker. Yet still he lost.

Does that mean he should have played otherwise? No, everyone agreed his did right. He should ONLY have done otherwise if he had the EXTRA information of seeing the future, or knowing (cheating) what the hidden cards were.

Sometimes the most reasonable option is not the right one on a given occasion.

I hope that example conveys why you cannot always use reason and logic to make the best decisions. While luck was involved, it something that happens in poker all the time (as well as real life), where you have a hand that should not be played and wind up winning the pot or even the tournament (an example, Doyle Brunson won the World Series of Poker two years in a row with a 10-2 hand (not a very good hand)). While reason is good to use and should definitely be taken into account when deciding on stuff, it is not always the best option.

May be a bad example, but I think that it kind of gets my point across.

So what else then? Just abandon reason and do whatever?!

No reasoning is not a Magic bullet, does not give perfect results every time. Especially when one is playing the odds. But reason DOES help one determine the odds.

Pick a card out of a deck. What are the odds that it will be the Ace of Spades? 52:1, (p= ~0.019) So rationally you should not assume it will be, nor should you bet that it is (all things being equal, this is of course where the wager comes in with gambling - how much to risk, given the odds and the prize?) Evn though you also know full well that it still might be what comes up. That is after all what the odds mean: 51 in 52 it won't, 1 in 52 that it will.

You are conflating "the best method" with "the perfect infallible method." (I wish we had one, but we don't.)

I do think that Reason is the best method, the ONLY reasonable reliable method (and one that can be improved upon through had work.) It's not perfect, but still retains the "best" slot because I neither know of any that is perfect, nor is better (or even comes close for that matter.) Do you?

Edited by ADParker

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So what else then? Just abandon reason and do whatever?!

No reasoning is not a Magic bullet, does not give perfect results every time. Especially when one is playing the odds. But reason DOES help one determine the odds.

Pick a card out of a deck. What are the odds that it will be the Ace of Spades? 52:1, (p= ~0.019) So rationally you should not assume it will be, nor should you bet that it is (all things being equal, this is of course where the wager comes in with gambling - how much to risk, given the odds and the prize?) Evn though you also know full well that it still might be what comes up. That is after all what the odds mean: 51 in 52 it won't, 1 in 52 that it will.

You are conflating "the best method" with "the perfect infallible method." (I wish we had one, but we don't.)

I do think that Reason is the best method, the ONLY reasonable reliable method (and one that can be improved upon through had work.) It's not perfect, but still retains the "best" slot because I neither know of any that is perfect, nor is better (or even comes close for that matter.) Do you?

I never said to abandon reason. I was just trying to say that to say reason is the best way to come to a decision is unreasonable in its own right.

There are times when you do have to do something unreasonable in order to change the flow of actions or to tilt the outcome into your favor.

In my example, the reasonable thing to do would be to fold and see what the next hand would be, but that obviously was not the best choice.

As I have questioned earlier, how can you say that reason is always the best way to come to a decision when everyone has different reasoning abilities and finds different things reasonable. I would say that committing murder because someone made you mad or you thought you could get money from the life insurance is an unreasonable action, but people come to that conclusion all the time. Currently in Maine, there is a law that they are trying to enact that would ban biological based bathrooms/lockers/sports teams in all schools. here Can someone please explain how that is a reasonable action? In my opinion, it screams lawsuit in waiting to me.

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Framm you are making a fundamental mistake of probability/reasoning. First let's simplify your poker scenario:

Assume you are playing a game in which you pick a number from 1 to a million, or choose to walk away with 999,999 dollars. If you decide to pick, and get it right, you get 1 million dollars. If you pick and get it wrong, you get nothing.

Clearly the reasonable thing to do is to walk away with the 999,999. Who cares about the extra dollar?

Now say Bob plays and picks 123456 which happens to be the magic number. Bob gets a million dollars! Clearly Bob made the "right choice" or did he?

Nope, Bob made the wrong choice. Even if you get only 10,000 if you walk away, he still made the wrong choice. It was just the 1-in-a-million chance happened to match up and Bob got lucky. But if presented with the same scenario again, Bob should NOT do the same thing. He should do the reasonable thing and walk away. Because 999999/1000000 times, walking away is the best option. So even if one time Bob happens to guess the 1-in-a-million number and get a larger reward (in my scenario it was $1 dollar more but it could even be up to 999999x more money I believe and the net payout would favor walking away still).

Back the poker scenario. The best choice WAS to fold. I would go so far to say he SHOULD have folded. He made a stupid bet and happened to get lucky, that's all. If you were in the same situation I would advise folding instead of betting and losing money.

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