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fullywired

Dawkins Scale

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So why does god/divinity have to be something we can imagine?

It is entirely irrelevant to the question of the existence of divinity as to whether you can provide an example of an unimaginable god. Thinking it is relevant is presumptuous on your part, as if we define what things are - we don't. We use our language to describe them, but we do not define them. They define themselves.

What do you think the word unimaginable means, exactly?

Or let me put it another way - describe an attribute common to every imaginable and unimaginable banana.

(I'll give you a clue: the only one that exists is that they are all identified as a 'banana'. If you need to find another uniquely identifying factor, then you're seventeen shades of stuffed.)

And is this category of gods all the gods that can possibly exist? If not, then the answering of prayer is not a necessary attribute of divinity.

Y'know - we just had an exchange of posts very recently where you swore blind that you didn't at all mean attributes that applied to both an imaginable and an unimaginable God and that I was just filibustering.

And here you are, plain as day, insisting that it must apply to all the gods that can possibly exist.

The category in question is the largest subset of the only Gods that I'm interested in; namely the category of revealed Gods where my relationship with them has some consequence.

And for them - it's a necessary attribute.

I don't have to disprove all the Gods at once, Leo. I can disprove them a category at a time. See Boolean logic for details.

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Well if a personal experience is the last thing one should rely on - then you may as well give up meditation and seeking Nirvana, cos you are only going to achieve that via personal experience and if you do and you then attempt to tell another of it, exactly how would you word it so that it is believable to them if they themselves have zero interest in comprehending buddhist principles and meditating?

I hope that is tongue in cheek because it reflects considerable ignorance and not paying much attention to what I post, just jumping to conclusions. Now none of us pay close attention to what others post, except we usually abandon a notion if the person disavows it.

For the record I do far more listening to serious music and informal introspection than I do any sort of formalized meditation, although I have practiced several and still regularly do breathing work.

Second, I am a Buddhist but not a "good" Buddhist -- I am also a Communist and probably a better Communist. Pretty much anyone meets the definition of Buddhist if they see sense in Buddha's teachings and give him and others of the tradition respect. But I don't believe it and my opinions are generally doubtful or skeptical, or maybe agnostic. I certainly do not think enlightenment is a real state that any real human being has ever reached, as most Buddhists nowadays kinda redefine the state as regards the Buddha himself as something different from what, say, an Erhat might achieve.

You mention Nirvana. As far as I remember I define it as a state of bliss where nothing actually happens -- a sort of suspended animation but a happy, blissful one. If there is an endpoint to personal existence, this makes as much sense to me as pretty much any, but I don't see it in my immediate future. Now the point is none of this is belief; it is opinion based on what I know about people and history and not based on personal experience. Those views that might be based on personal experience are personal and to others should be treated as nothing but hearsay.

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Religions aside, belief in God is about personal experience - it is a pretty broad brush that denounces the experiences of others without the evidence that they did not take place too. Some things are not believable on an intellectual level, some experiences are evidence for the person having the experience only. That person will usually be a seeker and have asked or prayed sincerely or had a very sincere and honest need to know the presence of God. It is not something that can be manufactured within a person to take place so it is impossible on the basis of vanity and pride alone to present another with proof of God - he is not a means to prove a point intellectually, it just does not work that way.

I know from my life experience that wanting to believe distorts one's own perceptions.I also had a personal experience where I researched and found sound scientific explainations that fit my experience exactly.If I was brought up to believe, and wanted to believe I would have never looked into the truth of my aforementioned experience.I can see, and have experienced things that can very easily send someone down a path of delusion when critical thinking is cast to the side.

I wish you would share your Godly experience on this thread, and put your true faith on the table.

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Posted (edited)

What do you think the word unimaginable means, exactly?

Or let me put it another way - describe an attribute common to every imaginable and unimaginable banana.

(I'll give you a clue: the only one that exists is that they are all identified as a 'banana'. If you need to find another uniquely identifying factor, then you're seventeen shades of stuffed.)

"A banana is an edible fruit produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa."

source: Wiki

I have just provided you with attributes of every imaginable and unimaginable banana - because even unimaginable bananas must have those attributes, else they would not be bananas.

Can you say the same of god/divinity?

Y'know - we just had an exchange of posts very recently where you swore blind that you didn't at all mean attributes that applied to both an imaginable and an unimaginable God and that I was just filibustering.

I "swore blind"?

No I did not - I simply clarified that my position was not focussed only on what is unimaginable, but encompassed both the imaginable and unimaginable. I have not written anything which contradicts that position, as everything I have written has implied the inclusion of both and not the exclusion of either.

And here you are, plain as day, insisting that it must apply to all the gods that can possibly exist.

Just as the attributes of 'banana' must apply to all bananas that could possibly exist?

Yes, quite so.

The category in question is the largest subset of the only Gods that I'm interested in; namely the category of revealed Gods where my relationship with them has some consequence.

And for them - it's a necessary attribute.

The category you decided represents "god" is only one of convenience to you and your argument, and not representative of the entirety of the general concept "god". It is cherry-picking.

I don't have to disprove all the Gods at once, Leo. I can disprove them a category at a time. See Boolean logic for details.

First, I never asked you to "disprove god", however I accept that would be a condition of showing there is a zero probability for the existence of god and so satisfies, at least in part, my question.

So, you don't have to disprove all gods at once to prove that one can assign that probability, but you do eventually have to disprove all sets of gods - those imaginable and those unimaginable. Without doing so you cannot assign that zero probability - or any probability.

Proving A doesn't exist does not render the existence of B or C invalid.

Edited by Leonardo
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Posted (edited)

The category you decided represents "god" is only one of convenience to you and your argument, and not representative of the entirety of the general concept "god". It is cherry-picking.

Which would be exactly what you did when we were discussing the words 'atheist', 'theist', 'agnostic', and 'belief' earlier in the thread. Your cherry-picked and convenient-to-your-argument definition of 'atheism', even with your recent but vague updates regarding only needing to be sure some unknown proportion of the time, still excludes Dawkins as being an atheist (unless you have some evidence that he is ever 100% sure no god exists). There is no doubt that any definition of atheism that excludes Dawkins is 'not representative of the entirely of the concept 'atheism''.

Edited by Liquid Gardens

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Which would be exactly what you did when we were discussing the words 'atheist', 'theist', 'agnostic', and 'belief' earlier in the thread. Your cherry-picked and convenient-to-your-argument definition of 'atheism', even with your recent but vague updates regarding only needing to be sure some unknown proportion of the time, still excludes Dawkins as being an atheist (unless you have some evidence that he is ever 100% sure no god exists). There is no doubt that any definition of atheism that excludes Dawkins is 'not representative of the entirely of the concept 'atheism''.

What I use as the definition of "atheism" is not cherry-picked, but consistent with the origin of the word. It means "the belief there is no god, or gods".

It is the modern inclusion of uncertainty about the existence of god/divinity by figures such as Dawkins which is the corruption of that meaning. Uncertainty regarding the existence of god/divinity has been the preserve of agnosticism, until the anti-theist adoption of it for atheism as an attempt to rationalise that belief with scientific principles.

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I have to wonder if Dawkins' Scale actually contributed anything to understanding the continuum of religious belief. Such scales are easy to make, often used to describe things and there are nearly always observations that simply don't fit. Did he have nothing better to do?

Doug

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What I use as the definition of "atheism" is not cherry-picked, but consistent with the origin of the word. It means "the belief there is no god, or gods".

Well then #6s on Dawkins scale are 'consistent' with your definition, but you said they weren't atheist; your use is not consistent with the origin of the word until you find some cite for the idea that it requires 100% certainty (unless you've backed away from that, which is cool and would definitely make more non-cherry-picked sense). From wiki, "The term atheist (from Fr. athée), in the sense of "one who ... denies the existence of God or gods",[118] predates atheism in English, being first found as early as 1566". You don't need to be 100% certain about anything in order to deny it, correct? And you definitely don't need to be 100% certain about anything in order to believe it.

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Well then #6s on Dawkins scale are 'consistent' with your definition...

How does "cannot know for certain" fit with "believes that no god, or gods, exist", but mean only the latter?

You don't need to be 100% certain about anything in order to deny it, correct?

Incorrect. If you're not 100% certain, then you can suggest something might not exist, but you cannot deny its existence and remain honest that you are uncertain.

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I know from my life experience that wanting to believe distorts one's own perceptions.I also had a personal experience where I researched and found sound scientific explainations that fit my experience exactly.If I was brought up to believe, and wanted to believe I would have never looked into the truth of my aforementioned experience.I can see, and have experienced things that can very easily send someone down a path of delusion when critical thinking is cast to the side.

I wish you would share your Godly experience on this thread, and put your true faith on the table.

No what you wish is that I would allow you to pick my experiences to pieces to suit you predisposition to debunk them. You have made your bias clear. Additionally what possible words in what possible combination of sentences on a page would not be open to debate? You can't prove anything through words on a page and I won't play that game with you.

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How does "cannot know for certain" fit with "believes that no god, or gods, exist", but mean only the latter?

#6 says, "I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable", the bolded part being precisely what leads most atheists to 'believe no gods exist'. Who said it can 'mean only the latter'? I used the word you used, 'consistent', since the definition you provided for atheism, and stated your actual definition is 'consistent' with, excludes the notion of 100% certainty you were arguing for. I don't believe gods exists, thus I'm an atheist, but I don't know for certain; all of that is consistent with your current definition, 'belief that there are no gods' and I would argue that most English-speaking people see no inconsistency amongst those statements.

Incorrect. If you're not 100% certain, then you can suggest something might not exist, but you cannot deny its existence and remain honest that you are uncertain.

dictionary.com:

de·ni·al

noun

1.

an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false: Despite his denials, we knew he had taken the purse. The politician issued a denial of his opponent's charges.

2.

refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.

3.

disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.

Nothing there about certainty that I can see. I deny that God exists but I don't know for sure. Again, you are entirely free to use any specific definitions you would like. However, when you insist that your statements are correct and others' are incorrect, but the correctness of your point relies on you selecting just one specific definition to the exclusion of all other valid usages, that is pretty much the definition of 'cherry-picking'.

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No what you wish is that I would allow you to pick my experiences to pieces to suit you predisposition to debunk them. You have made your bias clear. Additionally what possible words in what possible combination of sentences on a page would not be open to debate? You can't prove anything through words on a page and I won't play that game with you.

Reason, and Logic destroys the Bible.

2+2=4 not Gawd did it.

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Nothing there about certainty that I can see. I deny that God exists but I don't know for sure. Again, you are entirely free to use any specific definitions you would like. However, when you insist that your statements are correct and others' are incorrect, but the correctness of your point relies on you selecting just one specific definition to the exclusion of all other valid usages, that is pretty much the definition of 'cherry-picking'.

Absolutely. One of the most common expressions made by people when they make a mistake is "I was certain I was right..." "Certainty" is most definitely not a measure of accuracy or probability; It is a measure of personal confidence (and one of the things I have to focus on a bit more when I am teaching it to Japanese business people, as their use of the term in their language is a bit more in line with what Leonardo thinks its use in English is).

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Reason, and Logic destroys the Bible.

2+2=4 not Gawd did it.

If you want to make a blanket statement about the power of Reason and Logic as you understand it - then you will be more believable if you do not "special plead" to the masses by misspelling God to make your point into a comment born of sarcastic wit.

Apart from that, I never mentioned the Bible so you are just creating a strawman to play with me. And yet you expect me to relay my personal experiences to you? Oh please.

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Posted (edited)

A lot of it is just indoctrination while as children and in a few cases as adults in special personalities. In many countries it is also various forms of violence and social ostracism. And of course there is superstition and gullibility and ignorance of the realities (how many Christians know anything about Constantine and his politics and power drive, for example) and the desire to serve and be subservient to a greater being. At the tail end for a few is fear of death and as I mentioned earlier, an occasional attack of awe at the universe.

I find it hard to understand this POV or accept that a logical rational thinker can come to it. But in this I reflect PAs comments. You cannot understand or accept my pov on god. I cannot see how you would come to yours because I have not lived your life.

To me it is clear that it is not a matter of a lack of intelligence or of logical thinking, indoctrination, or any of the things you outline. People come to god as individuals, for individual reasons. Some need something to believe in. it is true But that, in itself, is a good reason for faith. It heals physical and emotional pain.

Others see the world diametrically opposite to you and cannot see how it can be as it is, without a god. Others find god in the experiences of their own lives. Overall your pov is far too negative and too restricted. Humans will always be spiritual creatures. We will never eliminate that, without eliminating that which makes us human. The best we can do, in that case, is to channel that spiritually into powerful constructive practices.

Edited by Mr Walker

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There really isn't anything incompatible with either viewpoint.

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Posted (edited)

There really isn't anything incompatible with either viewpoint.

I agree Actually both viewpoints are inevitable, along with many others, because we grow our world views from individual experiences, and every individual has a different life experience.I was saying I cant understand franks world view for this reason. Not that I cannot understand why he has a different one from my own. My wife and I live int he same world and have done so together for 40 years yet she sees everything around her as created by the hand of god while I see it as the result of evolutionary process. We had very different upbringings in this regard. Edited by Mr Walker

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If you want to make a blanket statement about the power of Reason and Logic as you understand it - then you will be more believable if you do not "special plead" to the masses by misspelling God to make your point into a comment born of sarcastic wit.

Apart from that, I never mentioned the Bible so you are just creating a strawman to play with me. And yet you expect me to relay my personal experiences to you? Oh please.

I do not believe in slavery.

I do not believe in genocide.

I do not believe in sending someone to be tortured, and then executed to forgive.

I do not believe in taking my nonvirgin newlywed wife to be stoned to death at her father's

front door.

I do not believe in burning witches.

I do not believe in stoning to death someone that works on the Sabbath, or blasphemes.

I do not believe in slicing a pregnant women's stomach open with a sword.

I do not believe in dashing babies against rocks.

I do not believe in making a burnt offering of the first thing that comes out of my house.

I do not believe in a prolonged death for the animal I will consume.

I do not believe that wanting to believe makes it true.

I do not believe without evidence.

Boy! Being Atheist, or lacking in belief sure makes one lost, and in need of being found.

Are you sure you do not want to share your personal experience to save souls?

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Posted (edited)

I don't believe gods exists, thus I'm an atheist,

This, I would agree with.

...but I don't know for certain.

This is an indicator of agnosticism, not atheism. As I previously stated, agnosticism may include a 'sliding scale' of uncertainty, but neither theism nor atheism can do so - because of the singular nature of certainty those terms employ regarding the existence of divinity. One asserts the divine does exist, the other asserts the divine does not exist. Neither assert uncertainty in that regard, while agnosticism does.

As to why people who state uncertainty regarding the existence of divinity attempt to claim that uncertainty is an atheistic trait, my observation of that trend is that people such as Dawkins have, through popular media, tried to make atheism the "rational, scientific alternative" to "irrational theism". i.e. it is a populist, but false, claim.

However, given the dearth of understanding of what the divine could be, and therefore the incapability of deciding what would constitute evidence for the existence of the divine, both the positive and negative assertions of that existence should be seen as equally irrational.

Edited by Leonardo

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Are you sure you do not want to share your personal experience to save souls?

Are you sure that you want to hear a description of a spiritual experience? Generally such tales are dismissed as being too subjective, and your tone seems somewhat less than genuinely curious.

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This is an indicator of agnosticism, not atheism. As I previously stated, agnosticism may include a 'sliding scale' of uncertainty, but neither theism nor atheism can do so - because of the singular nature of certainty those terms employ regarding the existence of divinity. One asserts the divine does exist, the other asserts the divine does not exist. Neither assert uncertainty in that regard, while agnosticism does.

But the problem Leo is exactly that, you are just 'stating' this, I need an argument instead. You absolutely must know that in, at the very least, the colloquial definition of the word, there is no question that Richard Dawkins is clearly an atheist; you probably see his name paired more with the word 'atheist' than you do 'scientist' or 'biologist' or 'author'. Your criteria for 'atheist' is as I understand it is 100% certainty at least part of the time currently; he does not meet that bar as far as I know. You are just imposing the 'singular nature of certainty' on these terms, it seems so arbitrary. I can just simply 'state' that atheism and theism can include a sliding scale of certainty and assert the singular nature of uncertainty in agnosticism, and everything works just as well. (except defining the terms with these opposite extremes from yours still puts it in opposition with how its most commonly used; if these were insisted as the one definitions to rule them all instead of yours, it has the exact same issues).

As to why people who state uncertainty regarding the existence of divinity attempt to claim that uncertainty is an atheistic trait, my observation of that trend is that people such as Dawkins have, through popular media, tried to make atheism the "rational, scientific alternative" to "irrational theism". i.e. it is a populist, but false, claim.

I think this may have come up before and forgive if you've responded to it already, but I'm not understanding this. Am I correct that you are tying in Dawkins scale itself to this notion that Dawkins/anti-theists are attempting to claim uncertainty as an atheistic trait? I'm assuming you are not talking about the composition of the scale itself, it is balanced on both the theist side as the atheist side, any 'claim of uncertainty' is also made in the same degree in favor of the theist side. Again, my understanding of what the entire point of the scale is in agreement with wiki, "Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that would place themselves as "1" due to the strictness of religious doctrine against doubt, most atheists do not consider themselves "7" because atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person's mind.". I'm not sure if the scale is what you're talking about on your point here, but this doesn't seem to be an example of Dawkins claiming uncertainty for atheism, it's the pointing out that more atheists are ultimately uncertain, which I thought you've been implying is what you consider to be a more rational position personally for everyone anyway.

However, given the dearth of understanding of what the divine could be, and therefore the incapability of deciding what would constitute evidence for the existence of the divine, both the positive and negative assertions of that existence should be seen as equally irrational.

I'm not an atheist with respect to 'what the divine could be', I'm an atheist with respect to all the current definitions I've heard of so far, and the ones I've heard cover an awful lot of people. "What the divine could be" is essentially "what is possible", and I'm not sure how I or anyone'd go about disbelieving in that, but I'm not that sure I have any justification for restricting what 'could be' concerning leprechauns, Santa and Cthulhu either, all of which are also unknown/beyond me. There are several billion people who do not share yours and my dearth of understanding of what the divine could be, if there even is such a thing, many of them know in a lot of detail what it is. I have a zillion ideas as far as what I would consider to be evidence for the existence of the divine, but maybe you mean "the incapability of deciding what would constitute evidence for the existence of the divine" given only the evidence we have. I don't think there's anything necessarily irrational about (tentatively, always) believing something doesn't exist when there's no evidence for it; your dictionary may vary.

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Are you sure that you want to hear a description of a spiritual experience? Generally such tales are dismissed as being too subjective, and your tone seems somewhat less than genuinely curious.

If you have an experience you want to share just PM me.Just tell me if you do not want my opinion, and to keep it to my self.

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Posted (edited)

But the problem Leo is exactly that, you are just 'stating' this, I need an argument instead.

I have provided plenty of argument, to which people like yourself invariably end up responding with a statement similar to "but that is simply your definition".

...atheism arises from a lack of evidence...

How many atheists have actually given thought to what might constitute evidence for the divine? And by that, I mean whatever the divine might possibly be, not just what certain religions have defined as being their idea of the concept?

I reject the claim that atheism arises from a "lack of evidence" and submit that atheism arises mainly as a reaction against theism.

Edited by Leonardo

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"A banana is an edible fruit produced by several kinds of large herbaceous flowering plants in the genus Musa."

source: Wiki

I have just provided you with attributes of every imaginable and unimaginable banana - because even unimaginable bananas must have those attributes, else they would not be bananas.

No, Leo.

What you've done is given me the current dictionary definition of the attributes of currently known bananas.

It's not even all the imaginable bananas.

For example - imagine bananas that fall from the sky, like rain. They're man-eating. Every twelfth month, they Tango to classical music for three night's straight and then hunt in small packs to find naughty children to eat for breakfast, like the dizzy little Mozart-loving yellow land piranhas they are.

And if you think that they're funky - you should see the unimaginable ones.

But of course - you can't.

Because they're unimaginable.

Unimaginable. Almost as if... almost as if it was impossible to imagine them. Almost as if a dictionary would be generally incapable of imagining them for you, either.

Unimaginable. Fancy that.

I "swore blind"?

No I did not - I simply clarified that my position was not focussed only on what is unimaginable, but encompassed both the imaginable and unimaginable. I have not written anything which contradicts that position, as everything I have written has implied the inclusion of both and not the exclusion of either.

Y'know - the conversation is captured in full, in black and white above us.

I think it's entirely obvious that you've changed your mind from imaginable OR unimaginable to imaginable AND unimaginable, possibly because you're somewhat confused as to what the word unimaginable means.

The category you decided represents "god" is only one of convenience to you and your argument, and not representative of the entirety of the general concept "god". It is cherry-picking.

First, I never asked you to "disprove god", however I accept that would be a condition of showing there is a zero probability for the existence of god and so satisfies, at least in part, my question.

So, you don't have to disprove all gods at once to prove that one can assign that probability, but you do eventually have to disprove all sets of gods - those imaginable and those unimaginable. Without doing so you cannot assign that zero probability - or any probability.

Proving A doesn't exist does not render the existence of B or C invalid.

You'll note that I'm a 6 on Dawkins' scale. I don't believe it's possible to disprove all gods.

What I do believe is that a non-trivial subset of gods - namely those that can allegedly interact with the material universe - can be tested for and hence proved or disproved on that basis.

Or - as all the cool kids are calling it these days - Science.

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The "for certain" bit to distinguish an agnostic from an atheist is I think a red herring. What does "for certain" mean? I don't think it means anything. My opinion (not belief) is that there is no god, but I suppose a very powerful business or political figure could be viewed as a god in certain ways.

I can comprehend an agnosticism as the teaching that finite men and women cannot know the infinite, and distinguish this form of no-god from standard atheism where the negative says there are some things we can know with reasonable certainty, and one of them is no god. Still, when you look at this distinction carefully, you see that either teaching has the same net practical consequence for us -- that there is really no difference at our level of existence.

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