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'It's just my opinion'


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#106    Frank Merton

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:23 PM

"Divine" implies a deity, "holy" does not.  Now what is a "deity?"  Dictionaries are of little use here, as we see from some of the posts above.  I would say to most people a "deity" is a sentient, intelligent being with abilities ("powers") substantially exceeding that of any human.

Of course there could exist beings who we do not think of as deities who are nevertheless more powerful -- aliens, super-heroes, etc., with confuses the issue and makes the existence of "deities" questionable.


#107    White Crane Feather

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 07:42 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 06 September 2013 - 07:23 PM, said:

"Divine" implies a deity, "holy" does not.  Now what is a "deity?"  Dictionaries are of little use here, as we see from some of the posts above.  I would say to most people a "deity" is a sentient, intelligent being with abilities ("powers") substantially exceeding that of any human.

Of course there could exist beings who we do not think of as deities who are nevertheless more powerful -- aliens, super-heroes, etc., with confuses the issue and makes the existence of "deities" questionable.
Consider concentric rings of awareness.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
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#108    Leonardo

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 09:38 AM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 06 September 2013 - 07:19 PM, said:

Those are not the two statements that need to be separated, it is 'this exists' and 'what is 'this'?'.  Without providing some kind of definition of what 'this' is, you cannot possibly, logically say that atheism has no argument against it.

I'll try again...

Atheism is not just saying "the Christian God doesn't exist", or "the Hindu gods don't exist". If it was just that, most theists could be considered atheists which is nonsensical.

Atheism is the general belief that no deity exists - it is the rejection of divinity.

Trying to tie atheism - which is a belief regarding the existence of a class of objects - to a belief regarding the existence of a specific alleged divine entity, is false.

Therefore, the definition of what atheism rejects, is the definition of 'divinity'. Not the definition of a specific alleged divine being, or a concatenation of the definitions of all alleged divine beings - but the definition of the class-object identifier within which all those definitions, and including the alleged divine beings which are undefined.

This is the definition of divinity, which in this sense is "any/all imaginable (and those unimaginable) divine being/s", which equates to what I stated "anything, everything and nothing".

The definition of divinity includes "nothing" because of the possibility that no divine being(s) actually exist.

Edited by Leonardo, 07 September 2013 - 09:39 AM.

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#109    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 03:56 PM

View PostLeonardo, on 07 September 2013 - 09:38 AM, said:

I'll try again...

Atheism is not just saying "the Christian God doesn't exist", or "the Hindu gods don't exist". If it was just that, most theists could be considered atheists which is nonsensical.

Atheism is the general belief that no deity exists - it is the rejection of divinity.

I can agree with all of that.

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Trying to tie atheism - which is a belief regarding the existence of a class of objects - to a belief regarding the existence of a specific alleged divine entity, is false.

I obviously disagree with this, and have explained why and asked for specifics why it is false.  Do you disagree with the concept of reasoning by analogy?  To defeat and rebut analogies does not just require pointing out any difference between the analogized objects, it requires explaining why the specific differences invalidate that analogy.  You either haven't said or I clearly do not understand why, 'there is no evidence except what particular people do believe and have believed about gods and leprechauns to support either of their existences', which is what my analogy is mostly based on, is invalidated because there are many different conceptions of gods.

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Therefore, the definition of what atheism rejects, is the definition of 'divinity'. Not the definition of a specific alleged divine being, or a concatenation of the definitions of all alleged divine beings - but the definition of the class-object identifier within which all those definitions, and including the alleged divine beings which are undefined.

Obviously I disagree with starting this with 'therefore', as one of the points of contention is why you think the comparison is false and what part of the differences between this class object and more specific object invalidates the analogy.  I entirely disagree with your italicized statement, alleged divine beings are not literally 'undefined', they are 'beings' and have the quality of being divine, those provide the definition and allow us to even put them in the class of 'the divine' in the first place.

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This is the definition of divinity, which in this sense is "any/all imaginable (and those unimaginable) divine being/s", which equates to what I stated "anything, everything and nothing".

Let's not use any general word like 'equate'.  I know I can leave long posts, but the reason I do so is that by laying out the detail I'm hoping that gives you the opportunity to say, "Ah LG, you and I agree on specific points A and B, but not C and here's specifically why".  Do you agree that your above actually says with more specificity the following:  "The class of 'divinity' includes "any/all imaginable and unimaginable divine beings".  The definition of divine is to be 'god-like' to leave it simple; "god-like" does have some definition, if for no other reason that it can be distinguished and is not identical to 'mammalian' or 'blue'.  It is possible that in reality, it could be that everything, anything, or nothing is actually 'divine'; if nothing is actually divine, then that does not change the definition of 'divine' to be equal literally to 'nothing', it changes the definition of divinity to be 'divine creatures that don't actually exist', just like cyclops are 'one eyed humanoid giants that don't actually exist'."  Do you have any disagreements with any of that, is that a more specific restatement of what you are saying?

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The definition of divinity includes "nothing" because of the possibility that no divine being(s) actually exist.

Fine, if that is the way you'd like to put it, but you then agree the key word is 'include'; the definition of the divine does not literally become equal to 'nothing'.

So yes, I'm still unclear on specifically why your noting that divinity is a class and leprechauns are not is a difference that invalidates the analogy.  But do you have a problem with this approach:  atheists are not technically required to make arguments against the class divinity, instead they can make specific arguments against all the members of that class. This has been done to some extent, I'd say a large one given how many theists it covers, as I think you agree when you don't dispute that specific religious gods have been satisfactorily rebutted or 'falsified' as I think you put it. So the vast majority of the specific gods in this divinity class have already been dealt with, and some of the arguments against those specific conceptions apply to all the conceptions evaluated so far, such as, 'the evidence for the gods claimed to date is no better than the evidence for leprechauns" (note, I'm comparing the specific object of leprechaun to each specific object within the divine class, so this should get around your issue with the comparison of classes to specific conceptions).  Now it is entirely possible that someone somewhere may have a conception of divinity that these same arguments do not apply to, but until it is defined in some way we cannot say that atheism is opposed to it as the atheist may not agree that these unknown conceptions even belong in the class of 'divinity' because they are too undefined; again, and I really think this is important, atheism does not reject the existence of some thing that is undefined to the point that it is impossible to even evaluate.

Actually, maybe a better question to ask is do you know of some philosopher or some other writer who makes this same argument you are making?  If you do, please provide a reference and maybe if I read their explanation of the argument I'll better understand it.  Most importantly, have a good weekend!

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#110    eight bits

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:03 PM

I have managed to get by with the formulation that gods are hypothetical beings said to exist outside of physical time and space ("properly eternal"), who can nevertheless exert causal influence within time and space ("powers"), and who acknowledge no strictly superior porperly eternal power ("top"). That has gotten me out of "wattabouts" like space aliens, King Kong, angels, elementals, Jinn, etc. The formulation is intentionally neutral between rival candidates for acknowledged "superiority," and requiring strictness in topness tolerates mere hierarchy within a pantheon of similar-in-kind beings (Zeus and Hermes are both gods).

As literary characters, they are a diverse bunch. I have no idea whether the class has any real instances, and cannot insist that the phrase "to exist outside of physical time and space" means anything. It is, however, conceivable, and has potential physical reference, like "the Prophets" of Deep Space 9 (who exist inside a wormhole, so outside what we call space and time, and despite being physcial in some sense, nevertheless function as the pantheon of the nearby planet's religion; I am happy to count them as divine, but not "The Founders of the Dominion" in the same hypothetical ontology - they exist only in ordinary space and time, despite being much more talented than me, and despite being worshipped by people they engineered to do so).

Unless somebody objects, I take atheist to mean, usually, somebody who professes, with whatever confidence suffices for them to make a profession, that the term gods has no actual real instances, that there are no properly eternal top powers. I happily relax that, upon request, to include the hedge "among the hypotheses examined so far." I have yet to encounter anybody who wants the hedge who expresses the slightest optimism that the unexamined cases will turn out differently :) .

Whether that helps and whom it favors, I leave to those who have already contributed.

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#111    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:12 PM

"Outside time and space" is perhaps not enough, as various aliens from a different time and space can be imagined that would not be "gods."  Therefore one might say "outside any time and space."

With that definition, it is of course impossible to rule out their existence, but it is not important either.  It is when one adds that they intersect with us that one takes a view, and of course one immediately asks what evidence exists.  If nothing convincing is forthcoming, then one is justified in saying they don't exist, similar to denying the existence of good old Santa.  If convincing evidence is forthcoming, then they become a proper subject for scientific study or at least observation.

Let me repeat that this is a separate question from the one of the existence of "infinite" beings of the sort found in Western religions, where logical problems arise allowing a more definite view.


#112    eight bits

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:41 PM

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"Outside time and space" is perhaps not enough, as various aliens from a different time and space can be imagined that would not be "gods."  Therefore one might say "outside any time and space."
It is, of course, fine to reject anybody else's defintion of something, but this one does capture, at least, what I mean when I use the words gods and divine. The Prophets seem to thrive in whatever "is" inside a wormhole, but what is inside isn't my space and time. And, that much is insufficient for them to be gods in the proposed definition, since they must also function causally in this space and time. DS-9 never does explain how that would be possible.

My guess is that the discovery of somebody like the Prophets would be an excellent occasion to re-examine everybody's definitions of many things :) .

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If nothing convincing is forthcoming, then one is justified in saying they don't exist, similar to denying the existence of good old Santa.
Well, no, I deny Santa because I have a mountain of evidence that he doesn't exist, and that all phenomena ever attributed to his agency were in fact caused by other beings. In contrast, I don't actually know whether the Universe has a creator or not, whether what I call "random" is in fact an intention which I do not discern, etc. The cases are different.

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If convincing evidence is forthcoming, then they become a proper subject for scientific study or at least observation.
Yes, but not a problem which interests me. Science is not, even for its most enthusiastic practitioners, a complete guide to truth, and in any case, systematically values some hypotheses according to preference-like rather than, or in addition to, truth-like criteria. What science does well, it does very well, but whether the phrase "properly eternal top power" refers is altogether outside any actual living scientist's profesional domain of expertise.

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Let me repeat that this is a separate question from the one of the existence of "infinite" beings of the sort found in Western religions, ...
I think you mean something other than "Western." The Classical Greek gods are mortal (they killed their parents, who would have killed them), and finite in all other senses. The  "infinite" Gods that come most readily to mind are of Semitic and Arabian origin, not Western at all, and have become popular worldwide, not just in the West.

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#113    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:52 PM

OK-- Abrahamic religions.  We do not need counter-evidence to not accept Santa.  Absence of evidence for anything extraordinary is sufficient; to the rational skeptic the default is and properly should be non-belief.

You seem to want a "god" to be not subject to causation.  I think none of us are and that causation is a statistical illusion created by the fact that our level of existence is composed of gazillions of atoms and similar particles behaving randomly but subject to probabilities.


#114    eight bits

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 08:26 PM

Frank

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We do not need counter-evidence to not accept Santa.  Absence of evidence for anything extraordinary is sufficient; to the rational skeptic the default is and properly should be non-belief.
We don't ever need evidence to form an opinion. Prioristic beliefs are fine. As it happens, I do have evidence about Santa, and it swamps any prioristic opinion(s) I may once have held on that subject. "Extraordinary" is reliably in the eye of the beholder. (You may be sure that some posters think a world without God would be extraordinary, and both atheists and theists have described my religious beliefs as extraordinary to them. I must be doing something right.)

I am rational and I am sceptical, but I do not reason about uncertainty according to wide-ranging and ungrounded heuristic defaults. You personally do that? Peachy. It's your belief corpus. And yes, of course, if your beliefs don't contradict each other, then they are rational, independently of how you arrived at them. Just like Pope Francis' beliefs, Richard Dawkins',  and Tom Cruise's.

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You seem to want a "god" to be not subject to causation.
Well, I am a sceptic about the well-foundedness of "causation." So, it seems we might just agree about that :) .

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#115    Frank Merton

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 08:40 PM

The default, to not believe without evidence, anything extraordinary, is essential, and you probably do it too.  We can't avoid it, and your implications here kinda irritated me.  Even the mundane, if it is important, must be checked.  When my daughter talks about men with two heads, I automatically don't believe, and so do you.  Given a news report of such a person and one might think again.

What is extraordinary or not is I suppose, as you say, in the eye of the beholder, although I would also say I have yet to see any significant disagreement there.  Arguments usually come down to whether the proffered evidence is persuasive or not.  There is always evidence.  Indeed, just that something is imaginable is evidence.

I don't find the idea of ghosts to be extraordinary, but most Westerners do, nor the idea of rebirth.  Still, over time, I have come to realize that the evidence
for these phenomena is less than enough to warrant a strongly affirmative opinion, let alone belief.


#116    eight bits

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 05:27 AM

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The default, to not believe without evidence, anything extraordinary, is essential, and you probably do it too.
I assent to the rationality of prioristic belief formation, as is obligatory for Bayesians (I am not one, but I agree with the admissibility of what they hold to be obligatory).

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When my daughter talks about men with two heads, I automatically don't believe, and so do you.
You know what I do? We've met? You remind me of a story, which illustrates what I would do.

I was walking down the street in the Big City at sunset, and a goshawk flew low and crisp over the traffic. Nobody else sees her - she's dark, the light is low, Big City traffic demands attention. So, I follow her on foot, and she perches atop a building, out of sight. And I wait below, because she will soon show off on the building ledge. Meanwhile, a mother and her young daughter go to their car, parked near where I'm standing. Mom gets busy, her head and arms in the back seat, her feet outside, fixing the child seat, while her daughter waits on the sidewalk.

The goshawk struts out onto the ledge for her audience of two, the little girl and your obedient servant. The little girl calls out "Mommy, there's a really big bird here." Mommy, busy with the seat, grunts back, doesn't look. I'd give odds that what she heard was "Mommy, Big Bird is really here," or some such. (Big Bird is a famous Jim Henson character.)

Well, OK, Big Bird wasn't really there, but a really big bird was. Now, maybe Mom wouldn't have appreciated the beauty of the goshawk anyway. But after the goshawk flew off into the sunset, I gave the girl a thumbs-up as I walked away. She did well to tell Mom to come look.

I  tell this story as an illustration of the downside of "default rules" that "automatically" eliminate inexpensive opportunities  to learn. So, if your daughter talked to me about two-headed men, I'd hear her out. If I didn't already know, and that woman's daughter told me "Look, Big Bird is here," I'd have looked. And I'd win, no Big Bird, but something better, a goshawk showing off.

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although I would also say I have yet to see any significant disagreement there.
You need to get out more, Frank.

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Indeed, just that something is imaginable is evidence.
No, whatever I imagine is a hypothesis. We can't test (expose to the possibility of belief change) any hypothesis with any of the same data we used to formulate it, e.g. that we did formulate it.

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#117    Frank Merton

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 05:39 AM

I would slay that the mere fact that you can frame a hypothesis is evidence for it.  Not persuasive or even good evidence, but still evidence.

Maybe you need to get out more; the arguments are over issues, rarely over method.

Your homily appears to have the lesson that you might miss something if you function with assumptions and defaults.  Well, it's a big world and inevitably I miss most of it anyway.  We need to have some efficiency in the issues we choose to invest the study required to form opinions, and can leave the rest either to the experts or to a default.

Your expression "prioristic belief" sounds to me much like prejudgment.


#118    eight bits

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 08:49 AM

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Maybe you need to get out more; the arguments are over issues, rarely over method.
Perhaps we usually participate in different arguments. This one between us, you'll notice, has a lot to do with method.

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Your homily appears to have the lesson that you might miss something if you function with assumptions and defaults.  
The lesson is that which heuristic somebody applies is reasonably related to expected costs and benefits. It usually costs me little to listen to somebody for a few moments; the potential benefit is that "really big bird" and "two-headed man" turn out to be real things I'm interested in.

If I am on some urgent errand, then I wouldn't stop to chat unless I did understand what was said to me. Higher costs for the same benefit may lead to different choices. But "automatically" assuming that 'everything that I fail to recognize immediately as referring to a real object doesn't refer to a real object' is an unattractive policy - although if that's what you like, then fine for you.

The idea of applying a "one size fits all" heuristic to every occasion where I do not immediately understand what the other person is saying isn't for me. And since it has been asserted as a fact that I do it anyway, I rise to point out that no, as a matter of fact, I do not.

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Your expression "prioristic belief" sounds to me much like prejudgment.
It's a standard term. "Prior" refers both to "from first principles" and "before the observation of evidence." What does the "pre" in prejudgment refer to, in your view? If it turns out to be the same, why should I be concerned?

Edited by eight bits, 08 September 2013 - 08:58 AM.

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#119    Leonardo

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 10:41 AM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 07 September 2013 - 03:56 PM, said:

I obviously disagree with this, and have explained why and asked for specifics why it is false.  Do you disagree with the concept of reasoning by analogy?

Not at all. I do not think that reasoning by analogy should form the entire basis for an opinion, however.

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To defeat and rebut analogies does not just require pointing out any difference between the analogized objects...

Yes, it can require just that. To show the analogy is false in any way "defeats and rebuts" that analogy. If pointing out the inconsistency in the subjects analogised is sufficient, then I'm happy to consider the analogy "busted".

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I entirely disagree with your italicized statement, alleged divine beings are not literally 'undefined'...

Really, so you would give the Deist "unconcerned being" the definition you follow with, being...

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...they are 'beings' and have the quality of being divine.

So, 'undefined' divine beings are actually defined as "being divine"? That is about as specific as my "anything, everything and nothing" definition, wouldn't you agree?

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Fine, if that is the way you'd like to put it, but you then agree the key word is 'include'; the definition of the divine does not literally become equal to 'nothing'.

I do believe I used the exclusive conjunction "or" when including "nothing" in the list I provided as a definition. I did not simply say, "the definition of divinity is nothing".

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So yes, I'm still unclear on specifically why your noting that divinity is a class and leprechauns are not is a difference that invalidates the analogy.

Because, as I have already explained, the leprechaun is a specific instance of a being (allegedly), while divinity is a whole class of objects with no 'set' description, definition, etc. To analogise your analogy, it is the same as saying arguing against the existence of giant flying, fire-breathing dragons is equal to arguing against the existence of all alleged mythological beings. It's not equal at all.

Edited by Leonardo, 08 September 2013 - 10:42 AM.

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#120    willowdreams

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 01:14 PM

when I put in that it is my opinion, i mean it as "this is how i think/feel on this after living on this earth for 50 yrs (or however old i was at the time i posted), and i am not going to go online and find a bunch of links to show you that my opinion is correct because goodness me, my personal perceptions, personal experiences, and knowledge gained from that, is not going to be found online as reference points to link on.

*shrugs*

on this site, sometimes THAT needs said because otherwise they expect you to leave a reference link. I have yet found one for my life experience yet.

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