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There is a website that successfully argues for the existence of God.Here is the URL.Therefore, God exists.
August 25, 2005 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Over 300 Proofs of God's Existence!
posted by Citizen Premier (170 comments total)

 
Holy shit, I was about to be impressed after reading through the first five. But after realizing that the list consists of about 250 reasons similar to:
# ARGUMENT FROM SCIENCE (I)
(1) Science is not always true.
(2) Therefore there is room for religious faith.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
Then, I realized that I could just as well hit myself in the head with a shoe for an hour and it would have almost the same effect.
posted by psmealey at 6:05 PM on August 25, 2005


See related 'Life in Hell' cartoon.

(from the golden days before Groening made a habit of submitting the same 16-panel Akbar and Jeff set week after week)
posted by kurumi at 6:07 PM on August 25, 2005



psmealey, keep reading. i think you'll pick up the joke by 30.

posted by sachinag at 6:08 PM on August 25, 2005


Some of these are absolutely hilarious. Great link.
My current fave:

ARGUMENT FROM INTELLIGENCE
(1) Look, there's really no point in me trying to explain the whole thing to you stupid Atheists -- it's too complicated for you to understand. God exists whether you like it or not.
(2) Therefore, God exists.


posted by whoshotwho at 6:15 PM on August 25, 2005


Hellooooo Logical fallacies...
posted by benzo8 at 6:16 PM on August 25, 2005


I thought it was gonna be:

1) puppies
2) rainbows
3) sunsets
4) the smell of babies ...

: >
posted by amberglow at 6:18 PM on August 25, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM GUITAR MASTERY
(1) Eric Clapton is God.
(2) Therefore, God exists.


So wait, you're saying Yngwie is not God?

My whole belief system is shattered. *cries*

(actually, since Eddie Van Halen believes Clapton is God, that's good enough for me. Therefore, God exists.)
posted by zoogleplex at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2005


1. psmealey wanted to hit his head with a shoe for an hour.
2. psmealey controls his own actions
3. If there is a God, then God could trump the will of psmealey
4. psmealey did not hit his head with a shoe for an hour
5. Therefore, God exists.
posted by flarbuse at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2005


Alright... always the last to get the joke. This is pretty good. It was, well, not funny, but the wryness of it hooked me:
ARGUMENT FROM WTC, aka ARGUMENT FROM TERRORISM (III)
(1) Terrorists destroyed the WTC, killing thousands.
(2) An intact Bible was found in the ruins.
(3) No, wait, it turns out it was a dictionary.
(4) Oh, well, God exists anyway.

posted by psmealey at 6:21 PM on August 25, 2005


and... flarbuse wins.
posted by psmealey at 6:22 PM on August 25, 2005


So wait, you're saying Yngwie is not God?

I thought Ritchie Blackmoe was God?

But seriously, lemme break it down for ya, sparky:

God Is Love
Love Is Blind
Therefore Ray Charles is God.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 PM on August 25, 2005


Actually, I think philosophy professors might get some mileage out of asking their undergraduate students to explain the difference between "Ontological Argument (II)":
(1) I can conceive of a perfect God.
(2) One of the qualities of perfection is existence.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
...and Anselm's actual argument. It might make for some pretty good papers.

Otherwise, kind of a nice page, has some funny stuff, but it's so long that (a) it loses its impact quickly and (b) who the heck devoted the time to compiling all that?
posted by uosuaq at 6:24 PM on August 25, 2005


Ritchie Blackmore used to charge people $10 for an autograph. God would never do that!

(therefore God exists)
posted by zoogleplex at 6:25 PM on August 25, 2005


Nice page title, Citizen Premier.
posted by louigi at 6:26 PM on August 25, 2005


Ritchie Blackmore used to charge people $10 for an autograph.

Yes, but he could make smoke appear on the water. That's a God-like power, dude.
posted by jonmc at 6:26 PM on August 25, 2005


*Ahem* Sorry jonmc, but that was "some stupid with a flare gun," who "burned down the gambling house," where Frank Zappa and the Mothers "had the best place around," that being a recording studio.

However, nobody's gonna take my car, I'm gonna race it to the ground. It's got big fat tires and everything! And so therefore...

Yeah, you know. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 6:30 PM on August 25, 2005


Well, y'know if you want the real truth of it all, it's really Ymir and the frost giants who created the universe ruled by Odin. . .
Just wanted to share that with everyone 'cause I know how important it is. You can all go sacrifice a goat now to thank me.
posted by mk1gti at 6:30 PM on August 25, 2005


Yes, but he could make smoke appear on the water. That's a God-like power, dude.

And fire in the sky, too.

But then, you've got James Taylor seeing fire and seeing rain, plus sunny days he thought would never end.

Neverending is a God-like kind of concept. Therefore, JT is God.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:31 PM on August 25, 2005


But he goes Space Truckin', dude!
posted by jonmc at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2005


I think that #32, "ARGUMENT FROM SMUGNESS" makes a lovely tagline.

Metafilter : I don't give a crap if you believe it or not; I have better things to do than to try and convince you morons.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2005


[This is good]

[God is goodness]

[Therefore, God exists]
posted by painquale at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2005


Metafilter : I don't give a crap if you believe it or not; I have better things to do than to try and convince you morons.

Perfect! Well... other than it should be morans, mora(o)n
posted by psmealey at 6:36 PM on August 25, 2005


God is so totally awesome, dude, and if you would pretend that Creed and POD were good bands, you would realize that.
posted by louigi at 6:37 PM on August 25, 2005


Creed was actually OK, but that's a whole other discussion.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 PM on August 25, 2005


Proof via Olive Garden:

(1) The Olive Garden is considered an Italian Restaurant.
(2) Therefore, Satan Exists.
(3) Therefore, there is a God.
posted by weston at 6:45 PM on August 25, 2005


Hm, the Space Truckin' argument might just sway me.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:54 PM on August 25, 2005


Woops, spoke too soon, you blew your credibility saying Creed was OK.

YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD WITH PRAYER!!
posted by zoogleplex at 6:55 PM on August 25, 2005


So far this is my favorite:

# ARGUMENT FROM PERSECUTION (II)
(1) Jesus said that people would make fun of Christians.
(2) I am an idiot.
(3) People often point that out.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

Note that not all idiots believe in God. Just don't ask me how I know this.
posted by davy at 6:56 PM on August 25, 2005


Woops, spoke too soon, you blew your credibility saying Creed was OK.

zoog, you know me well enough to know that I belive credibility is for college kids trying to impress impressionable chicks.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 PM on August 25, 2005


3. Profit!
posted by ori at 7:03 PM on August 25, 2005


If God and Lemmy got in a fight, who would win?

Trick question...
Lemmy is god.
(Airheads)
posted by tomplus2 at 7:06 PM on August 25, 2005


Wait, what about Dio? The name is a clue, right there?
posted by jonmc at 7:08 PM on August 25, 2005


1. A really good book on this subject is "God & The New Physics".

2. All men are Socrates.
posted by neuron at 7:08 PM on August 25, 2005


The three that I hear the most are:

ARGUMENT FROM UNINTELLIGENCE
(1) Okay, I don't pretend to be as intelligent as you guys -- you're obviously very well read. But I read the Bible, and nothing you say can convince me that God does not exist. I feel him in my heart, and you can feel him too, if you'll just ask him into your life. "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son into the world, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish from the earth." John 3:16.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM NUMBERS
(1) Millions and millions of people believe in God.
(2) They can't all be wrong, can they?
(3) Therefore, God exists.

and

ARGUMENT FROM INCOMPREHENSIBILITY
(1) Flabble glurk zoom boink blubba snurgleschnortz ping!
(2) No one has ever refuted (1).
(3) Therefore, God exists.

(by the way, thanks to kurumi for reminding me of the existence of the "life in hell" comics. After I finish the shitload of schoolwork I have to do, I'm going to reward myself by going out and buying one of those comic-books.)
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:11 PM on August 25, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM META-SMUGNESS
(1) Fuck you.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM METAFILTER
(1) I know you are but what am I?
(2) Therefore, God exists
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:15 PM on August 25, 2005




I thought it was gonna be:

1) puppies
2) rainbows
3) sunsets
4) the smell of babies ...

: >



God is the smell of feces and urine?
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:34 PM on August 25, 2005


#58 wins it,
posted by Balisong at 7:37 PM on August 25, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM BLINDNESS (I)
(1) Atheists are spiritually blind.
(2) Therefore, God exists.


Must be all that masturbation.

And you philistines. If there's a God it's Thomas Youngblood (obscure).
posted by Talanvor at 8:22 PM on August 25, 2005


1)
2) Therefore God exists.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:43 PM on August 25, 2005


I have long tried to understand the reasonably-educated religious mind. I think maybe I got a step closer to the truth the other day, when at the end of a long argument my interlocutor said "Look, obviously the Bible isn't 'true' in any real sense, but I like it".
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:46 PM on August 25, 2005


MetaFilter: Therefore, God exists.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:58 PM on August 25, 2005


Heh, nicely said, Pretty_Generic. Like it in the same way the Polish youth are fond of the Palace of Culture and Science. It's simple familiarity, something you like because you grew up with it--no other reason can really be supplied.

And when I was thinking about how so many religious people can live normal lives with such silly notions, including ones about heaven and hell, I came to the idea that it wasn't me who didn't understand Christianity, it was Christians. Not true in all cases, but I think it's true in maney.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:59 PM on August 25, 2005


no other reason can really be supplied

It looks fucking awesome!

I came to the idea that it wasn't me who didn't understand Christianity, it was Christians

That's certainly true with Scientology. I got asked to take a free stress test the other day, and I pointed out that I had read this guy's frickin' holy book, and he hadn't, cause he was scared of teh pneumonia.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:02 PM on August 25, 2005


Where the hell is Quonsar, anyways?
posted by Balisong at 9:04 PM on August 25, 2005


Actually, the ontological argument-- the second one listed here-- I find somewhat convincing.

*ducks*
posted by koeselitz at 9:17 PM on August 25, 2005


Gee, believing that God doesn't exist is becoming so much in fashion (pedestrian) that it shouldn't be long before the really "cool" people will be forced to start believing again.
posted by spock at 9:21 PM on August 25, 2005


I dunno, I mean believing the world is round has been de riguer for a while. But hey, the 80s made a comeback, so who knows.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2005


spock said:
Gee, believing that God doesn't exist is becoming so much in fashion (pedestrian) that it shouldn't be long before the really "cool" people will be forced to start believing again.

ARGUMENT FROM NONBELIEF
(1) The majority of the world's population are nonbelievers in Christianity.
(2) This is just what Satan intended.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

C'mon, with your cold logic you should see the bullshit of what you're saying.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:28 PM on August 25, 2005


koeselitz said:

"Actually, the ontological argument-- the second one listed here-- I find somewhat convincing.

*ducks*"

You mean the Cosmological Argument? That one still gets a lot of people, unfortunately. But at least it tends to make for diests, which I wouldn't call a religious faith; just a misconception.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:38 PM on August 25, 2005


Deists are atheists who don't like to upset people.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2005


1) I am god.
2) So are you.
3) So is raw sewage.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2005



Deists are atheists who don't like to upset people.


When I was little and people used to ask me my religion I would just stutter. My mother was for a while what you'd call an angry atheist, and that led me to believe that I'd be moshed to the ground if I ever told anyone I didn't believe in God.

Oh, and by the way, my grandfather was responsible for changing Christmas Vacation and Easter Vacation into Winter and Spring Break. In fact, I think he may have taken "God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance for a short while. I'm proud of this fact but I don't think I've ever told it to anyone in person.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:02 PM on August 25, 2005


Citizen Premier: "You mean the Cosmological Argument?"

No, sorry. I meant the second ontological argument presented, which makes it the fourth on the page. It's a good argument. Anselm's book, for example, is a pretty formidable piece of work, if you ask me. I like this argument because it's very immediate, and because it clearly shows what's at stake here: some sort of perfection (you don't have to call it God if you don't want) must exist for the world to be comprehensible.

The cosmological argument is good, too, though, and might be particularly poignant today. In Epicurus' and Lucretius' times, when somebody wanted to be an atheist (not that they were; they weren't) then they insisted on the eternity of the world, because that's really the only way to get out of having some grand first cause. Modern scientists doesn't seem to have considered this difficulty; that is to say, modern scientists seem to claim that the world had a beginning. If the world began, then why?
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 PM on August 25, 2005


30,000,000 atheists can't be God.
posted by Vidiot at 10:10 PM on August 25, 2005


Well I agree that there is something strange about our world, in that there is a coherent logic to it, but I prefer to call those the laws of physics. And the laws of physics certainly didn't lead the Jews out of Egypt or command Noah to build the Ark.

I like to wonder why it is our universe can exist and as to why there can be logic in it; but God and magic just don't factor into that thinking anymore. They did somewhat when I was a little kid, though.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:11 PM on August 25, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM UNDERPANTS GNOMES
(1) Steal Underpants
(2)
(3) Therefore, God exists.

or

ARGUMENT FROM INFINITE INDEFINITE DEFINITION (Aiónios)
(1)Define God.
(2)Consider this for an infinite amount of time
(3)
(4)
(*)
(*+1)There is no longer a counter argument
(*+2) Therefore, God exists.

...actually, arguments rarely get past the 'define God' stage. That or they're resolved quickly if everyone agrees on a term.

To add to koeselitz's thought there: I think it's instructive that 'why' is not a factor in determining an event - crime for example. Prosecutors do not have to prove motive simply because it's impossible to fathom a human mind because it's too complex and there are too many factors and related events.
The same could be said for scientists investigating early events in the universe. At some point it all goes black.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:23 PM on August 25, 2005


Also, defining God as everything and infinity and in some ways indefinite (Tao teaches this) resolves quite a bit. Of course that gets in the way of being able to manipulate genuine "God"(tm) Brand religion and the 'real' truth.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:27 PM on August 25, 2005


Or kill me
posted by Smedleyman at 10:27 PM on August 25, 2005


koeselitz -Modern scientists doesn't seem to have considered this difficulty; that is to say, modern scientists seem to claim that the world had a beginning. If the world began, then why?

I dont know, theories about how everything started are always changing.. When scientists are talking about the big bang I dont think theyre even saying that was the beginning of everything, I think theyre saying at that is as far back as we can measure(so far?). Ive heard people say it could be cyclical and infinate, ie. the universe expandind and contracting back to that one point in cycles. I dont think scientists are saying the big bang was the begining.

A begining to me is incomprehensible, theres always the question of what came before. I think I can sort of comprehend infinity.
posted by phyle at 10:27 PM on August 25, 2005


Gee, believing that God doesn't exist is becoming so much in fashion (pedestrian) that it shouldn't be long before the really "cool" people will be forced to start believing again.

ARGUMENT FROM FASHION
(1) Disbelieving religious claims is just a fashion
(2) Believing religious claims will probably become more fashionable again in the future
(3) Therefore God exists
posted by dgaicun at 10:31 PM on August 25, 2005


The Big Bang was the begining of time. If there was a time before time... well, that's hard to say. The real debate is about the nature of information, and if information is, in fact, reality; or if reality merely expresses itself to us in the form of information. Tough call.



And smedleyman, I think the only way to define the Christian God is through his actions. That is to say, the Christian God is the God that includes the set of stuff that the New and Old Testiments say he did.



Or not.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:45 PM on August 25, 2005


# ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) I can conceive of a perfect God.
(2) One of the qualities of perfection is existence.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

is there such a thing as an imperfect God? Isn't Anselm's first premise "i can conceive of God, which is a perfect being" or something similar?

Anyway, I can conceive of a perfect unicorn. Does that mean unicorns exist? No, therefore, this argument blows, koeselitz. Hence why it is on a HUMOR page.
posted by papakwanz at 10:46 PM on August 25, 2005


This God, it vibrates?
posted by IndpMed at 11:17 PM on August 25, 2005



This God, it vibrates?


I, for one, welcome our new God overlords.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:24 PM on August 25, 2005


Okay. First, papakwanz: you'd have to show me that a unicorn is perfection before that works. That is: you have to follow Anselm's argument. His challenge is to concieve of a perfect being. When I try to think of a perfect being, it doesn't have a horse's body or a horn on its head, but perhaps that's just me. If you believe that perfection is just subjective-- as this tired old canard seems to imply-- then you're saying that all arguments, which aim at perfection of logic, are simply subjective, and, therefore, arguments are lost on you anyhow.

Citizen Premier: I'm pretty lapsed myself. (I just had to do the whole "Er, mom... I'm moving in with a girl" thing with my evangelical mother a month ago. Fun.) What little hold the old traditions (or, er, the now-popular "mall of america" take on the old traditions) used to have on me is long gone now. Now I like the laws of physics a lot because they make the world somewhat comprehensible, and because I like things to make sense. But certain things about those laws still bother me a little. They're still a sort of mechanistic, artificial way to see the world. The preconception behind them is that all things have physical causes, and that we can understand those causes. No one's demonstrated those premises to me yet.

The thing is: weird things happen that I can't fully explain, things like strange lights in the night sky, and moments when mathematical equations make sense to me, and friendship. Chalking those up to God or Nature would cover up the fact that I don't understand them yet. It's more of a challenge to live with the radical uncertainty that rejecting both science and religion causes, but it's somewhat rewarding, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 11:29 PM on August 25, 2005


NSFW: This God doesn't vibrate, but I don't think anyone's complained yet.

On Preview: NSFW shows up in the spellcheck, this is wrong I say, wrong!
posted by Talanvor at 11:33 PM on August 25, 2005


weird things happen that I can't fully explain, things like strange lights in the night sky

The rest of you may know them as "stars."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:40 PM on August 25, 2005


Saying "God did it" always leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:44 PM on August 25, 2005


1) My daddy didn't love me.
2) Every child should be loved.
3) Therefore, there is a Heavenly Daddy that loves me and EVWWWYBODY!

Q E mothafuckin' D, foo'. G'night.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:47 PM on August 25, 2005


koeselitz When I try to think of a perfect being, it doesn't have a horse's body or a horn on its head

(1) papakwanz never said "a perfect being" he said "a perfect unicorn". Not necessarily perfect as a being but perfect in its unicorn-ness.

(2) I suppose a perfect God is also not necessarily a perfect being.

(3) Profit
posted by Joeforking at 11:50 PM on August 25, 2005


You don't have to suppose God is perfect. Anselm's argument works just as well as:

(1) Imagine a perfect being, that is, the source of all perfection.

(2) Existence is predicated of perfection.

(3) Therefore, the perfect being, the source of all perfection, exists.

I agree that calling that being "God" and superimposing upon it all the categories that religion has come up with is somewhat stifling. It's probably more rational to leave the question somewhat open: we have no idea where goodness and rationality and truth (i.e. 'perfection') come from, and even putting the name 'perfect being' on it is probably too limiting and not precise.
posted by koeselitz at 11:55 PM on August 25, 2005


you have to follow Anselm's argument. His challenge is to concieve of a perfect being.

Do we know what it means to be perfect in a metaphysical sense? Perfection isn't positively defined. It is a placeholder term for the negative space i.e. that which isn't imperfect. Do we even know what qualities would a God possess and what conditions must be met for perfection to be the case? At best, we can simply relate our own fundamental qualities (knowledge and action) and maximize them (omniscience and omnipotence). But it's our imperfect knowledge that prevents us from knowing whether the "perfect being" we imagine, is actually perfect. And that's where faith in the tenet "Man created in God's image" comes in. And that's where Anselm's argument as a purely logical exercise fails.
posted by Gyan at 12:07 AM on August 26, 2005


To put it another way, By imagining a perfect being, we are imagining perfection. If we can do that, we aren't imperfect ourselves. Else, saying "I can concieve of a perfect being" is just an exercise of linguistic conjunction with an empty referent.
posted by Gyan at 12:10 AM on August 26, 2005


Gyan, the latter is simply what it is. Inventing a noun doesn't invent a thing.

And our morality is just the evolution of our natural instincts that keep us from killing our families, which isn't good for genes.
posted by Citizen Premier at 12:36 AM on August 26, 2005


Ive heard this argument a few times before. I cant understand it at all, It doesnt make sense to me in the slightest. This makes sense to me-

(1) Maybe there is an absolute truth/perfection to the universe and Maybe this truth/perfection is not subjective, it is absolute.

(2) Because this truth/perfection exists, maybe it is manifested into a single being

(3) Maybe this being is one of the gods described in one of mankinds religions?

I think thats what your trying to say, I added the maybes in there..
posted by phyle at 12:44 AM on August 26, 2005


ANSELM'S ARGUMENT FROM CREATIVE LOGIC

(1) I can awkwardly mash a bunch of fantastic-sounding adjectives together, which may or may not be meaningful, and definitely conflict with eachother, into a bizarrely arbitrary anthropomorphic quasi-concept

(2) Nothing is cooler than this thing I am imagining by my own subjective criteria

(3) If I imagine something really cool it has to exist

(4) That makes sense because it does

(5) Therefore, God exists

(6) Therefore, butt-sex is evil
posted by dgaicun at 1:45 AM on August 26, 2005


1. We are incomplete without the perfection of God.

2. Gödel, incomplete, is Gödel without an umlaut.

3. Gödel without an umlaut is God and el.

4. El is the singular root of the multiplicity Elohim.

5. Godel is God times God.

6. Gödel is God times God with an umlaut, which is like turning it up to 11.

7. God is a headbanger.

I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition that this margin is too narrow to contain.
posted by pracowity at 2:33 AM on August 26, 2005


My problem with Anselm's argument and all of that type is that I firmly, absolutely believe that it is not possible for us to conceive of a perfect thing. When we try to conceive of a perfect thing, the best we can conceive of is some aspect of that perfection filtered such that it fits into our puny, finite mind. Hence my counter argument:
1) Humans are not perfect
2) Nothing that is not perfect can conceive of something that is perfect
3) God is perfect
4) Humans can not conceive of God.

I am in fact a strong agnostic, which I haven't seen well represented so far. Anyway, the exact thing that makes God God is why we cannot conceive of it. God may or may not exist, but no non-perfect human can know god. I'm perfectly happing living in reality, which is either the bits of god that filter in to our perception, or is some self-contained bucket of stuff with no cause. We can never know the difference, thus the existence of God is entirely irrelevant. Thus, everyone should believe whatever will make them (and others) happier overall. I'm actually happiest believing in the undefined existence of God.

Okay, back to laughing at misuses of logic :)
posted by JZig at 2:49 AM on August 26, 2005


Gödel is God times God with an umlaut, which is like turning it up to 11.

This is the best thing I have ever read ever, ever, ever!
posted by joe lisboa at 2:52 AM on August 26, 2005


What the hell does perfect mean, anyways? Nobody seems to bother to define it, but to me at least there's nothing perfect about the Christian God, or any god I've ever heard explained. Are we talking about moral perfection? Aesthetic perfection? Mathmatical perfection? Perfect, as in not deteriorating? Perfect, as in a perfect sphere? Perfect, as in perfect asshole? Or is perfection just a bullshit buzzword*?


*duh.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:54 AM on August 26, 2005


Just because something can be called perfect, doesn't mean it exists, primarily because you are simply saying it is perfect, without proving such a thing.

Also, what about a perfect vacuum? I can conceive of that, but it doesn't mean it exists. And if it was to exist, it wouldn't be anything anyway.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 3:15 AM on August 26, 2005


Regarding those who questioned the funny of this article:

If you've actually waded into the morass that is the argument over whether or not God exists, this collection becomes deeply funny. Particularly if you've participated in an especially bloody forum discussion over the Transcendental Argument that literally went into thousands of posts as your opponent refuses to even consider your critique of his or her argument and demands that you solve Hume's induction problem.

I seem to recall this coming up when Internet Infidels was recovering from that debacle. (I suggest giving the board a look - IIDB.org - it gets pretty interesting.)
posted by graymouser at 3:26 AM on August 26, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM ASSHATTERY
(1) I am a MeFite.
(2) Therefore, God does not exist.
posted by languagehat at 5:29 AM on August 26, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM LANGUAGEHATTERY
(1) You people are asshats
(2) Therefore, God exists
posted by dgaicun at 6:03 AM on August 26, 2005


Ah, an old favourite. I've had this in my links for eons but nice to re-read it.

36, 51 and 56. Marvellous stuff.
posted by Decani at 6:07 AM on August 26, 2005


Why did it take me so long to get the joke? Perhaps not as slow as psmealey, but still...

Most of them I just rolled my eyes at, but #58 make me laugh:
ARGUMENT FROM ARGUMENTATION
(1) God exists.
(2) [Atheist's counterargument]
(3) Yes he does.
(4) [Atheist's counterargument]
(5) Yes he does!
(6) [Atheist's counterargument]
(7) YES HE DOES!!!
(8) [Atheist gives up and goes home]
(9) Therefore, God exists.


Sounds just like quite a lot of the "discussions" one can find on the web... :-)
posted by Chunder at 6:08 AM on August 26, 2005


Ah Jesus - I see someone is actually trying to defend Anselm's preposterously childish "argument" here. Unbelievable. I certainly don't have the energy to waste on debunking that old nonsense. Anyone who doesn't see the huge flaws in that pretty much immediately is a dimwit. Go do some elementary philosophy Googling and educate yourself.
posted by Decani at 6:17 AM on August 26, 2005


Argument from movement

1) To get from point A to point B first you have to go through point C, ad infinitum
2) However, things move
3) Therefore, God, the "Prime Mover", exists.
posted by signal at 7:04 AM on August 26, 2005


Ah, an old favourite. I've had this in my links for eons but nice to re-read it.

I have to say I was quite surprised that I couldn't find this posted previously on Metafilter, I assumed it was old news to everyone...
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2005


Re: conceiving of perfection, perfection comes from the idea of better applied to something over and over again. I think the way humans actually understand perfection is a sort of recursive operation X = better(X), similarly eternity is T = longer(T) we never actually solve the equation but we know that the equation itself represents the idea that were getting at.
posted by I Foody at 7:56 AM on August 26, 2005


I think 46 is my favorite, but I think Calvinism is kinda evil.

JZig: I'm a strong agnostic too, though I'm willing to say that I believe in God. I do think that all arguments for God come from an inherent irrational faith, and therefore are fairly useless when arguing things that should be determined by rational discussion (especially political policy).
But yeah, you can't ever prove God's existence. If you did, then there'd be no faith. And without faith, there's no God.
(But I also don't believe that humans can conceive of the infinite, and especially not a definitionally transcendental infinite...)
posted by klangklangston at 8:05 AM on August 26, 2005


Well alright then--how exactly is God "better" then? Is he better at throwing darts? If so then he'd just hit a bull's eye each time. You can't get better than that. Using the word "better" is just as bad as using "perfect." What is God perfect at? What does he do better?
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:07 AM on August 26, 2005


This is for klangklangston, for saying such a silly thing.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2005


Humans cannot conceive of a perfect being. They can pretend that they do, but as soon as they start describing it, giving it perfect attributes, it turns out that a perfect being with its perfect attributes is impossible to imagine.

It's an old story. For example, if perfect God knows everything perfectly, then God knows exactly, down to the last subatomic particle, what I and everyone and everything else will do tomorrow. If so, we have no free will and there is no such thing as good and evil. But if God does not know what I will do tomorrow, God is imperfect. Etc.

Attempts by theologians to resolve such contradictions devolve into gibberish.
posted by pracowity at 8:13 AM on August 26, 2005


Well Citizen, think of every fault you know of. God has none of those. Then ask all your friends what they consider faults, and all of their friends, etc. Then you'll know that God is everything except for all that crap.

Please tell me there's an argument from exclusion on that page, I know there's got to be...
posted by mikeh at 8:34 AM on August 26, 2005


"Perfection" is just a tag for an absolute condition that never really exists -- the "perfect vacuum" example is great. It's similar to the "unstoppable force" and/or the "immovable object". (What happens when the two meet? Doesn't matter, as neither exists.) Start thinking about it, and absolute (non-zero) conditions don't exist beyond abstract concepts.

That's what started me down my road to godlessness anyhow...
posted by LordSludge at 8:37 AM on August 26, 2005


Citizen Premier: I wasn't speaking specifically of god, just where the idea of perfection might come from in god's absence in reference to the ontological argument.

The traditional qualities that are given to god are omniscience, omnipotence, immortality, timelessness, and perfect goodness, and really white beard. Most of these could be dealt with though the idea of thinking "no, even more powerful", "even more moral", "even more knowledgeable", or "even more white". I also doubt god plays darts I hear he doesn't even play dice.
posted by I Foody at 8:42 AM on August 26, 2005


The only notion of "fault" I can think of would be a logical fault, such as a computational error. But even that isn't absolute, since mathmatics is a human construction. There really isn't a definition of the word "fault" that expands beyond the human domain. That is to say, nothing that happens on Mars is wrong. Wrongness is simply a construction to make things work better on Earth.

I feel smart for saying that.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:52 AM on August 26, 2005


mikeh: Well Citizen, think of every fault you know of. God has none of those. Then ask all your friends what they consider faults, and all of their friends, etc. Then you'll know that God is everything except for all that crap.

Um, it's pretty clear (from the Old Testament) that God gets angry, is a mass murderer, etc.

I'd call those faults...

(How can an omniscient critter get angry?? I mean, he knows what's going to happen centuries before it happens. And because he's omnipotent, nothing happens that he does not want to happen. Aren't surprise, betrayal, and lack of control key elements in "anger"?)
posted by LordSludge at 8:55 AM on August 26, 2005


Foody, you've given the best defintion so far, I think, but all of those things you've listed have limits--although you'd have to agree with me that there's a finite amount of information to be had in our universe.

Think of the universe for a second as a game of chess--it has finite parts and each of those parts can move in a set manner and interact with eachother in set ways. There is a really, really, absurdly large number of possible games that can be played, but if you know all of those possible games, you can't know one more. You could speculate about changing the rules or adding more pieces, but then you're talking about another universe.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:57 AM on August 26, 2005


"This is for klangklangston, for saying such a silly thing."
Aww. You resorted to Douglas Adams. Consider me chastened!

No... No, not quite. Again, I have personal and subjective faith, which I am already willing to concede cannot be debated in a rational form.
And I believe that strong agnosticism is the only rational position on God. You can't prove that God does exist; you can't prove that God doesn't exist. Therefore, any arguments that rely on God for proof have to be disregarded as unsubstatiable.

But perhaps you have some other science fiction humor you'd like to throw around further, in your efforts to make atheists seem like pricks? Especially one that relies on 3000-year-old jokes about Sophists?
posted by klangklangston at 9:06 AM on August 26, 2005


in your efforts to make atheists seem like pricks

Huh?

Anyways, I just linked you to that because you said "And without faith, there's no God."


"Unicorns care if you believe in them like you care if unicorns believe in you." ~from a magic(tm) card I read once.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:13 AM on August 26, 2005


And by the way, is Douglas Adams really 3000 years old? I did not know that.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:17 AM on August 26, 2005


I don't see how omnipotnce or immortality have limits on them but as for omniscience I think you have a point, allthough I don't know enough about the universe to know whether the amount of information is finite or not, I suspect it is (finite).

However if there was an omniscient sentience in existance, I suspect that then there could be an infinite amount of information because there would be information about the information and information about the relation of information to the universe and meta-information turtles all the way down. My point being a god might require real omniscience to understand itself even if its not needed to understand the universe.

I do however think this would require changing the rules and talking about another universe.
posted by I Foody at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2005


I Foody, what you just said reminded me of my favorite paradox:
Set A is the set of all sets that do not contain themselves. Does Set A contain itself?

See This is about Self-Reference if that piqued your interest.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:27 AM on August 26, 2005


I could have sworn I got that essay from metafilter... I might be posting it to the FP in about 20 hours...
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2005


Like I've always said, there's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not.
posted by norm at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2005


i was going to reply to koeslitz but many other people already did and did so far more eloquently than i would have, so thanks!
posted by papakwanz at 10:11 AM on August 26, 2005


Of course, one cannot "disprove" the existence of anything, one can only show that there is zero evidence of that something's existence. (Prove to me that Santa Claus does not exist.) That should be good enough for any rational person.

Dontcha think?
posted by LordSludge at 10:26 AM on August 26, 2005


Citizen: It's the joke that's 3000-years-old. It was a riff on Sophists, when they were the dominant school of Greek thought.
posted by klangklangston at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2005


If I made a joke about Archeaptryx, would that make the joke 150 million years old?
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:55 AM on August 26, 2005


Citizen: Am I not being clear or are you an idiot?
The mechanism of proving that God does not exist by way of contradiction in faith was used in parodies of the Sophists by Aristophenes. Just like "women— can't live with them, can't live without them" appears in a classical Greek play.
posted by klangklangston at 11:30 AM on August 26, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM MetaFilter:

1) Am I not being clear or are you an idiot?

2) Therefore, God exists.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:07 PM on August 26, 2005


(Yeah - I know that's not what you were arguing about...)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:08 PM on August 26, 2005


I'm aware of sophists, but I'm also aware that the imaginary creature called the babel fish was not invented 3000 years ago. If you can find an example of a joke using another example similar to the babel fish one, I would enjoy seeing it. But the joke, as Douglas Adams wrote it, is most definitely not 3000 years old.
posted by Citizen Premier at 12:28 PM on August 26, 2005


"...Christian God..."
I don't believe in the Christian God Citizen Premier.

Talanvor - I get an image of the Exorcist from that NSFW post...

ARGUMENT FROM APPLIED FORCE
(1) God exists.
(2) [Atheist's counterargument]
(3) *Smashes toe with hammer
(4) [Atheist: 'OOOWW!!! JESUS CHRIST!!!!' ]
(9) Therefore, God exists.


"For example, if perfect God knows everything perfectly, then God knows exactly, down to the last subatomic particle, what I and everyone and everything else will do tomorrow. If so, we have no free will and there is no such thing as good and evil..."

Old news pracowity, Boethius covered this. (In essence God exists outside of time)

Omniscience is covered by BEING everything - including meta-interactions. From there it’s a simple question of whether that constitutes knowlege/awareness, but you weren’t frontally consciously aware of your left pinky toe until I just mentioned it.

But again, I’m talking ‘universe’ and ‘everything’ and ‘infinity’ instead of the traditional conception of ‘God’. (Even divorced from anthropomorphism we still force human consciousness on the conception).
And when I say everything I mean - everything

So:
ARGUMENT FROM DEFINITION
(1) God exists because he’s everything.
(2) Everything exists
(3) Therefore, God exists.

So the only ‘devil’ in that construct is the Cartesian one.
/smirk

My God I’m so clever!
*runs off to furiously masterbate*
posted by Smedleyman at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2005


Here's what I don't get:
If we lived in a two dimensional world (with no Up or Down - we couldn't even grasp those concepts as being a part of "reality") then our entire world/universe would be like a sheet of paper. So let's say me and my 2-D friend are walking along one day and you (a 3-D being) decide to pick my friend up. To me he would have just disappeared. Impossible! (He just exited our universe.) If he gets put back down he reappears. How did he do that? There is no explanation for that! We would find their inability to conceive of possibilities outside their little known-universe as ignorant or arrogant.

Now if you move the example up one dimension, then it would be possible for a being of a higher dimension to easily put a mouse inside a basketball (and remove it again) - something we see as impossible. (Interestingly string theory suggests quite a few more dimensions.)

While I can understand an agnostic's view, I find an atheist's view to simply be (at best) arrogant.
posted by spock at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2005


koeselitz: "Thinking the Unthinkable: Anselm's Excitatio Mentis"
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:39 PM on August 26, 2005


The standard (and, I think, correct) reply to the ontological argument is that existence is not a predicate -- it's not a property that something can either have or not have. If it were, we could make any kind of thing exist just by defining it as having that property. For example (to make a slight variation of papakwanz's point), if existence were a predicate, you could define a superunicorn to be something that has all the usual properties of a unicorn (body of a horse, single horn, etc.) plus the property of existence. So (poof!) superunicorns must exist, by definition. The reason this doesn't work is that existence isn't a predicate (logically, it's a quantifier), and that's also the reason that the ontological argument doesn't work.
posted by klausness at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2005


As an aside it always struck me that an omniscient god would be pretty stupid. If all things are already known then there is no way to use intellect or reason. I don't think the above statement is necessarily true or useful, but I think it may be funny or interesting.
posted by I Foody at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2005


While I can understand an agnostic's view, I find an atheist's view to simply be (at best) arrogant.

This is a non sequitur from the rest of your comment. Are you saying that if in some alternative universes magical beings can exist, therefore magical beings exist in all universes?

I myself find the agnostic argument to be a rather wishy-washy statement of not choosing a side, or to be a bit more charitable, of saying 'I don't know a good paradigm on which to judge this debate so therefore I abdicate.'

That being said, your 'arrogance' comment is charming in its naked hypocrisy.
posted by norm at 12:57 PM on August 26, 2005


Norm: While I appreciate your comment regarding agnostic's argument being wishy-washy at least it is allowing for the possibility of something being a reality, but outside our current realm of understanding.

However, I don't understand how I can be called arrogant (and thus a hypocrite) for thinking outside the box (if by box I mean "universe").

Also, there was nothing in my example about magical beings, unless you are taking Arthur C. Clarke's definition of magic: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
posted by spock at 1:16 PM on August 26, 2005


At the risk of arguing logic with Spock: Theoretical extra-dimensional being != God. Anecdotes about what could be != constitute evidence for what is.

What is arrogant about disbelief in something for which there is no empirical evidence? I choose not to believe in unicorns. But many people through the ages believed in unicorns. There is anecdotal evidence that they may have existed. And there is no biological reason why single-horned equines could not exist. Is my choice not to believe in them somehow arrogant? My choice for non-belief is not based on assumptions of intellectual superiority - simply on the lack of credible evidence to suspend disbelief.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2005


Smedleyman: Boethius covered this. (In essence God exists outside of time)

That fixes nothing. Even if God exists outside of time, God still either does know or does not know what you will do "tomorrow" (in the quaint little thing called "time" that we exist in, whether or not God does).

I assume that a God existing outside of time does know what you, a dweller in time, will do tomorrow. If so, you cannot sin because your actions are predetermined. Furthermore, God is not omnipotent because God is powerless to choose to change your actions tomorrow (because God already knows today exactly what you will do tomorrow).
posted by pracowity at 1:32 PM on August 26, 2005


spock, your prior statement that I thought hypcritical: "While I can understand an agnostic's view, I find an atheist's view to simply be (at best) arrogant."

It struck me that the key part of that phrase was your lack of understanding of the atheist's viewpoint (as the logical counterpart to your ability TO understand the agnostic's). The arrogance that you ascribe to the atheist is a projection of your inability to understand (or, at the risk of putting words in your mouth, to agree with) that argument. Which is itself arrogant.
posted by norm at 1:32 PM on August 26, 2005


ARGUMENT FROM LESSER UNIVERSES
1) Imagine someone living on a 2-dimensional plain.
2) If I, a 3-dimensional being interacted with this 2-dimensional being, he would freak out.
3) Therefore, there may be more dimensions.
4) We haven't explored these dimensions to see if God isn't there.
5) Therefore, God exists.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:37 PM on August 26, 2005


GOD EXISTS FROM NO DEFINITION
1) We puny mortals cannot concieve of what God really is.
2) God may be the period at the end of this sentence, for all we know.
3) God will henceforth be defined as the period in that last sentence.
4) Therefore, God exists.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:39 PM on August 26, 2005


Spock: Just curious do you find theists to be similarly arrogant? Do you find Christians and Muslims and Jews to be even more arrogant claiming to know very specific things about those things which people can't discover. And those arrogant Hindu's think they know what gods look like and their personalities!

Even strong atheism grants god only one adjective: his non-existence. Christianity makes numerous claims about god's nature, quotes him, records his action, claims to know his desires. That seems more arrogant to me.
posted by I Foody at 1:39 PM on August 26, 2005


I have to admit that these mock-proofs are more dismissive than demonstrative, but I think they do serve a true purpose of breaking down ridiculus arguments into their components. In fact, I think this layout could be used to show the absurdity of other lines of reasoning.

ARGUMENT FROM IT WAS A GOOD THING ANYWAYS
1) Iraq has weapons of mass distruction.
2) Skeptic's refute: No it doesn't!
3) Yes it does! (invades Iraq).
4) We didn't find any weapons of mass distruction.
5) But the Iraqi government was evil, and it's good that it's gone.
6) Plus, we named the war Operation Iraqi Freedom.
7) Therefore, the war in Iraq is justified.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:45 PM on August 26, 2005


I Froody: There is also an apophatic tradition in Christianity (and most all other sufficiently old religions) that finds it only fit to describe the deity with denials of its attributes.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:56 PM on August 26, 2005


I think I am starting to understand klangklangston's argument...

ARGUMENT FROM CITIZEN PREMIER IS A PRICK
1) Citizen Premier is making atheist look like pricks.
2) Therefore, all atheists are pricks.
3) Therefore, God exists.

I may be having too much fun right now.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:00 PM on August 26, 2005


Citizen Premiere's Atheism Argument
1) I cannot comprehend what people write.
2) I enjoy attributing to them straw man arguments.
3) Therefore, God does not exist.
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on August 26, 2005


For the record, my example is not an attempt to prove that God exists, but merely that something does not cease to be possible simply because we don't understand it (or even if it seems to violate the known rules of our universe). That's rather significant, if you think about it.

If you apply the illustration to God, it means that even while we are unable to comprehend, we are able to understand why we are not be able to comprehend it. I think that is significant. It serves as a model, so to speak.

Also, at the risk of ticking off Christians, I have to say that Christendom has apostasized greatly from the teachings of the one they claim to honor. Those interested in more on that topic might enjoy this online book (© 1873): The church of the first three centuries: or, Notices of the lives and opinions of the early Fathers, with special reference to the doctrine of the Trinity; illustrating its late origin and gradual formation.
posted by spock at 3:59 PM on August 26, 2005


klausness : "The standard (and, I think, correct) reply to the ontological argument is that existence is not a predicate"

You may want to read this article.
posted by Gyan at 4:05 PM on August 26, 2005


Norm: Saying that "I understand" one thing and not another it only says something about my current ability to understand or empathize. My ability to understand (or not understand) something does not automatically make it valid (or invalid), real (or not real). In fact, that is the entire point of my post. So I guess I may be vulnerable to an accusation of meta-arrogance.
(I kill me.)
posted by spock at 4:10 PM on August 26, 2005


1) The term "God" is improperly defined.
2) Therefore, there's not much to argue about
3) Is there?

Plus, 99.9% of people are closet apatheists: they don't care whether there are gods or not. They just live their lives as if nobody was watching.
posted by signal at 4:36 PM on August 26, 2005


spock: "For the record, my example is not an attempt to prove that God exists, but merely that something does not cease to be possible simply because we don't understand it (or even if it seems to violate the known rules of our universe)."

As for your first statement, “something does not cease to be possible simply because we don't understand it” – I wouldn't argue with that, nor would any atheist I know of. This is, however, one of the most common arguments used by Creationists to “discredit” the theory of evolution (generally referred to as the “argument by incredulity”).

As for your second statement, “or even if it seems to violate the known rules of our universe” – If it is arrogant to presume that something ceases to be possible merely because it seems to violate the known rules of the universe, then all human understanding is arrogant (a proposition I'm not prepared to dispute, actually /mild sarcasm). It’s called empirical evidence, and it’s actually the only real basis on which to make prediction. You can reasonably assume that monkeys aren't going to fly out of your butt based on such methodology and not be considered arrogant for your presumption. You may be wrong – there may be some heretofore unknown law of the universe allowing monkeys to fly out your butt, in which case you want to revise your assumptions about the laws of the universe. That wouldn't make your assumption arrogant, however. Nor does the necessity of revision to our understanding of the universe actually mean that absolutely anything is possible. It just means we missed the monkey in the butt thing. So sorry!

Also, I feel I should point out the fallacies your example is built of:

1) False premise (the existence of two dimensional life forms)
2) Used to support unfalsifiable premise of unknowable extra-dimensional life forms
3) Used as poor analogy to Arthur C. Clarke's definition of magic: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
4) Which actually supports the opposite position to the one you're putting forth here (Clarke's definition demonstrates that everything is scientifically knowable with sufficient information, not that infinite ignorance allows for infinite possibility).

Despite the logical flaws in your argument, most atheists I know would be happy to grant the possibility of vastly superior or extra-dimensional beings (who's existence would not, however, in any way be relevant to the question of whether there exists a supreme being), and being mostly in the scientific fields, would also be happy to adjust their theories to accommodate new evidence - a marked difference in attitudes from traditional theists, I should point out, who generally insist on disregarding direct evidence to suit their preconceptions.

Again - despite the Xtian PR to the contrary, most atheists are not arrogant in their disbelief - they simply see no compelling reason to believe. Their world view is based on evidence, not preference. In fact, given that atheists in general see humanity as not being either sacred or divinely inspired, this seems to be, on the whole, a rather more humble view than that we are somehow God's special chosen ones.

I think the real argument you are trying for is better analogized by the more common ant's view example, or the Cargo Cult phenomenon. But neither example actually offers a compelling reason for us to believe in an actual deity, or even to be susceptible to the possibility: The lesson you seem to be missing is that in none of these examples is the seemingly godlike being actually a God! Therefore your own argument could just as easily be used to prove that even if we find evidence of something that looks like a God, there's no reason to assume it actually is a God. Not that such evidence exists.

“Ray, when someone asks if you're a God, you say ‘Yes!’”
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:38 PM on August 26, 2005


most atheists are not arrogant in their disbelief

Well, we sure have an unrepresentative sample here on MeFi, then. Although I'm not sure you have statistics to back up that statement.
posted by languagehat at 5:50 PM on August 26, 2005


Heh, heh. Not making any claims about their manners - but if you read my arguments, you'll see support for the position that the actual framework of the belief system is not inherently arrogant, which is what spock had claimed.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:04 PM on August 26, 2005


It's Raining Florence Henderson : "Clarke's definition demonstrates that everything is scientifically knowable with sufficient information, not that infinite ignorance allows for infinite possibility"

That's a fallacy right there. All the statement means that s.a. tech may look like magic, not that all that looks like magic is s.a. tech, although it seems his conviction is probably the latter.

Besides, God can't be proven or disproven by empiricism. Suppose tomorrow morning, you discover you can fly. For all you know, you have always been under the control of advanced aliens and they just decided to tweak a bit. Any empirical phenomena can be rationalized within a metaphysical framework. So the claim that suitable evidence will tilt the atheists just demonstrates that their conception of Godhood is different than believers.
posted by Gyan at 6:13 PM on August 26, 2005


Gyan: "That's a fallacy right there. All the statement means that s.a. tech may look like magic, not that all that looks like magic is s.a. tech, although it seems his conviction is probably the latter."

Granted. Doesn't really change my point, though, which was that Clarke's point doesn't actually support spock's contention.

Gyan: "Besides, God can't be proven or disproven by empiricism."

Agreed.

Gyan: "Any empirical phenomena can be rationalized within a metaphysical framework. So the claim that suitable evidence will tilt the atheists just demonstrates that their conception of Godhood is different than believers."

While I don't necessarily disagree with that statement, my point about evidence tilting atheists was really intended to demonstrate that the scientific method is inherently designed to accommodate new evidence, whether that evidence supports initial assumptions or not. To what degree that new evidence becomes rationalized to support pet theories... well that's another discussion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:27 PM on August 26, 2005


It's Raining Florence Henderson : "my point about evidence tilting atheists was really intended to demonstrate that the scientific method is inherently designed to accommodate new evidence"

My point was God is not subject to evidence. There's nothing that would count as evidence for or against God. So the notion that atheists are ready for evidence is a statement about them, not the current status on which they rest their disbelief.
posted by Gyan at 6:33 PM on August 26, 2005


I understand where you're coming from, and I'm sure that there are those who could never be convinced of God's existence (just as there are those who still insist that the Earth is flat), but I don't think I can go so far as to agree that nothing could count as evidence for God, or that He is not subject to evidence.

I do agree that my sudden ability to fly - and thank you for that, I've always wanted to fly; much more dignified than the monkey in the butt thing I inflicted on poor spock! - would not automatically sway me to Christianity. It's a very non-specific, non-denominational sort of miracle. I certainly would be looking for more mundane, logical explanations. On the other hand, if Christ were to fly down from the sky with a host of angels, and the seas were to boil, and the serpent rose from the deep, and the dead began to rise, etc... I think most of us atheists would say, "Oh, shit." Most scientific understanding about universal laws is built on a preponderance of empirical evidence, not one single event. We know about gravity not because it happened one day. We know about gravity because it happens consistently, in a predictable way.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:49 PM on August 26, 2005


It's Raining Florence Henderson : "On the other hand, if Christ were to fly down from the sky with a host of angels, and the seas were to boil, and the serpent rose from the deep, and the dead began to rise, etc... I think most of us atheists would say, 'Oh, shit.'"

And that still wouldn't be evidence. Any entity capable of inducing miracles in medieval Jerusalem, may very well be capable of angels outta the sky tomorrow. Belief comes down to intuition, not evidence. So the point is that faith and doubt are different sides of the same coin. Neither is more objective than the other.
posted by Gyan at 7:02 PM on August 26, 2005


1) Bill Gates is stuck using Napster to Go on an iRiver.
2) There is a God.
3) Therefore, God exits.

(via MacDailyNews)
posted by ancientgower at 7:06 PM on August 26, 2005


If we lived in a two dimensional world . . . not an attempt to prove that God exists, but merely that something does not cease to be possible simply because we don't understand it . . .
While I can understand an agnostic's view, I find an atheist's view to simply be (at best) arrogant.


Spock, if you want to try to engage atheists and their actual arguments instead of just insult them based on your own fuzzy understanding of their position, please answer these 6 questions (just answer them concisely and honestly, don't try to decipher what I'm getting at, I'll tell you):

1) Do you believe that the earth is 6000 years old? Are you an agnostic about whether the earth is 6000 years old?

2) Is there such a thing as a square-circle? Are you an agnostic about whether there is such a thing as a square-circle?

3) Is there such a thing as a Six-stix-poplotz? Are you an agnostic about whether there is such a thing as a Six-stix-poplotz?
posted by dgaicun at 7:13 PM on August 26, 2005


languagehat: Well, we sure have an unrepresentative sample here on MeFi, then.

It comes with the subject (faith) and debating about it (applying logic to it). They don't mix, not unless the debate is between members of the same faith applying logic to construct doctrine based on unquestioned (by them) tenets such as the existence of their god. If I were a believer, I hope I would just tell people as much -- that I am a believer, not a prover, that my belief is based on faith, not science, and that I cannot apply mathematical tools to show its correctness. I hope I would stay out of debates such as this one.

But there are believers who insist that their religious beliefs are a match for science on science's terms, and that is a big mistake. No matter what conflicting religious beliefs various peoples have (one god, many gods, tripartite gods, multi-headed gods, infinite gods, multi-armed gods, mountain-dwelling lightning-hurling gods, etc.), they (almost?) all use and agree on the same basic tools of reasoning and get the same results when they discuss non-religious subjects. They fail when they presume that they can extend the use of natural-world logic to show the correctness of their beliefs in any of the various invisible superbeings that they have been brought up to believe are pulling all the levers behind the workings of the natural universe.

This thread is not about mocking religion in general -- not about quoting pages of the Koran or Bible and chuckling at the stories that are so unlikely in any literal sense -- but about mocking the many convoluted attempts a few believers make to scientifically show that their folk histories are as inarguably factual as the existence and finniness of a '57 Chevy.
posted by pracowity at 7:14 PM on August 26, 2005


Gyan - You seem to be confusing (or assuming that I'm confusing) evidence for proof. I cannot prove evolution. There is, however, plenty of evidence for it. If all of the events of Revelations were to pass as written, it would not constitute proof, but it would be evidence. And yes, I grant that evidence is always open to misinterpretation. It does not, however, cease to be evidence simply because it is misunderstood.

When a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear, it does in fact make a sound. I know this because I know what sound is, and I know that a falling tree would definitely create such. Unless, of course, it falls because all the air just escaped the atmosphere. In which case, who cares? We're dead.

But yes, at some point, all experience is subjective. That doesn't mean nothing is demonstrably true, however.

Meanwhile - gotta go for the night. Thanks!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:16 PM on August 26, 2005


Now if you move the example up one dimension, then it would be possible for a being of a higher dimension to easily put a mouse inside a basketball (and remove it again) - something we see as impossible. (Spock, above)

Just in the unlikely event that there are any MeFites unfamiliar with the book, Spock's post basically summarizes the plot of E. A. Abbot's Flatland. Which implies but does not belabor a similar theological point. (And it does, rather meanly, caricature the atheist as a literal point, an absolute solipsist who thinks that his single dimension is the entire universe and that the universe consists of himself only.)
posted by Creosote at 7:22 PM on August 26, 2005


It's Raining Florence Henderson : "You seem to be confusing (or assuming that I'm confusing) evidence for proof."

They are the same thing. Proof is simply a piece of logic that incorporates evidence to establish a result. However the validity of logic is not itself subject to proof, but to experience i.e. evidence.
posted by Gyan at 7:31 PM on August 26, 2005


Gyan: "They are the same thing. Proof is simply a piece of logic that incorporates evidence to establish a result. However the validity of logic is not itself subject to proof, but to experience i.e. evidence."

Uh... This statement contradicts itself, Gyan.

"They are the same thing."
So proof (a) = evidence (b).

"Validity of logic is not itself subject to proof"
So validity of logic (c) not subject to (a)

"But to experience, i.e. evidence."
So (c) is subject to (b) but not (a)

But you already stated that (a) = (b), so if (c) is subject to (b), it must also be subject to (a). Otherwise, it is subject to neither (a) nor (b), or (a) does not actually equal (b).

My money is on they're not really equal. Granted, I'm not a professional logician or linguist, but in common usage proof generally refers to a conclusion, while evidence generally refers to the data used to reach the conclusion. Which is actually how you defined them yourself "Proof is simply a piece of logic that incorporates evidence to establish a result." (My emphasis.) So, to draw the distinction in terms relating directly to this discussion, while the acceptance of proof does rely on faith in the validity and interpretation of the evidence (two points which, admittedly, can always be denied by those choosing to reject the proof), evidence itself is agnostic. Evidence is simply supportable data. But evidence itself doesn't actually care what propositions it is used to support.

As such, it seems nonsensical to me to say that anything is not subject to evidence. It may be true to state that there is no supporting empirical evidence for a thing, but if said thing wasn't even subject to evidence, i.e. there's no data at all relevant to the subject supporting or refuting the premise, then we wouldn't even know of the subject's existence.

Additionally, since evidence is simply supportable data gathered on a subject, a preponderance of evidence supporting a given position does lend it more credibility than a position lacking the same weight of supportable evidence. Hence scientific "belief" - based on a preponderance of the evidence != religious "faith" - which exists specifically and deliberately to counter a lack of evidence (there would be no point or need for faith if God were ever to prove himself).

Please note that the statement above does not claim that one position or the other is actually true. Only that they are not equivalent, and that one is therefore more credible than the other.

A more cynical response might be to suggest that those who protest that God cannot be measured must secretly intuit that, yes - it is impossible to actually measure something which does not, in fact, exist.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:11 PM on August 26, 2005


It's Raining Florence Henderson : "Uh... This statement contradicts itself, Gyan."

No, it doesn't. Proof (a) is just a type of evidence (b) which we take as definitive. But given the problem of Induction, or rather uncertainty, no proof is actually definitive. When you say that evidence is agnostic, you're confusing it with phenomenon. A phenomenon just is; evidence is a phenomenon which is designated for or against. "Preponderance" of evidence doesn't mean anything because there is no objective algebra of proofs, and certainly not an indisputable one.

It's Raining Florence Henderson : "but if said thing wasn't even subject to evidence, i.e. there's no data at all relevant to the subject supporting or refuting the premise, then we wouldn't even know of the subject's existence."

Unless the knowledge is gained a priori or intuitively.
posted by Gyan at 11:38 PM on August 26, 2005


Well, we sure have an unrepresentative sample [of non-arrogant atheists] here on MeFi, then.

dude: teapot. orbit. jupiter.

1) the theist makes the positive claim.
2) hence, the theist must defend the positive claim.
3) when theists fail to defend the positive claim, this is in no way due to "arrogance" on the part of the rest of us sitting around waiting for the theist to make a shred of fucking sense of the idea that there is a disembodied-yet-anthropomorphic personal Almighty that gives two shits about us (or the 50,000 children that died as a result of totally preventable diseases today, for that matter).

Paging Homo Sapiens: get over yourself!
posted by joe lisboa at 1:18 AM on August 27, 2005


Now that brings to mind the nice thing about most diests: They don't think God cares any more for them then he does his ants.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:52 AM on August 27, 2005


"This thread is not about mocking religion in general -- not about quoting pages of the Koran or Bible and chuckling at the stories that are so unlikely in any literal sense -- but about mocking the many convoluted attempts a few believers make to scientifically show that their folk histories are as inarguably factual as the existence and finniness of a '57 Chevy."
Pracowity: You attribute much more maturity to Citizen Premier than is warrented based on his contributions to the thread.
posted by klangklangston at 2:05 AM on August 27, 2005


To people who think they can prove that their god exists: can you also disprove the existences of other gods and disprove the validity of other religions? Assuming you're a Christian (and in these discussions, aren't they always?), can you show that non-Christian religions are wrong?
posted by pracowity at 2:22 AM on August 27, 2005


kk, you brought the beef. I was just poking fun of you for saying that God is nothing without faith, which I find akin to saying "Santa Claus won't bring presents if you don't believe in him."

pracowity, here is one of the best quotes to use on an evangelite:
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - - Stephen Roberts
However, it would seem that in this thread we must first contend with diesm, which is a much harder beast to slay.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:59 AM on August 27, 2005


"kk, you brought the beef. I was just poking fun of you for saying that God is nothing without faith, which I find akin to saying "Santa Claus won't bring presents if you don't believe in him.""
Bullshit, I 'brought the beef.' I pointed out that I enjoyed the list, and was pretty clear about how I don't believe anything regarding the ontological existence of God can be proven, and how it's better when dealing with policy to proceed without basing anything on that belief.
And to that, I get your giggling high school crap. But hey, I still believe in God because I have faith in God. That's a personal thing, and if it bothers you, you can fuck off.
And lemme know when you can prove that God doesn't exist. Any claims outside of strong agnosticism are bullshit. I have no problem with carrying on as if God is irrelevant to daily life, but c'mon, gimme a proof then, chuckles. Or again, fuck off.
posted by klangklangston at 7:44 AM on August 27, 2005


I regret using the word "arrogance" in this discussion. I regret it, not because my point was wrong, but because it is apparently such a "hot" word that it apparently affected the reading comprehension of those who were offended by it.

For the record, arrogance is a quality that can be displayed by any individual or group of people (including myself). We find arrogance where we find it. I was not saying that atheists have a monopoly on arrogance. The arrogance that I was speaking of is the arrogance that what we know now is the end-all and be-all of our understanding.

While it sounds very admirable to not believe something until it is proved, you are being quite hippocritical if you think that you believe ONLY those things that are scientifically proven. All humans believe things that are not yet proven, or even unprovable from a scientific standpoint (and that includes scientists). Thus to be consistent, you must dismiss all things that you believe that have not been scientifically proven. To use that standard selectively is simply rationalized bias (which all humans do, as well, but let's be honest about it).

I'm also a big fan of logic, but MeFites tend to worship at its altar as if IT is the end-all and be-all of truth. Look into Quantum Mechanics a little bit and then come back and explain how only the logical need be found in reality.
posted by spock at 7:50 AM on August 27, 2005


spock writes 'Thus to be consistent, you must dismiss all things that you believe that have not been scientifically proven. '

No, you can simply dismiss all things for which there is not a shred of evidence. e.g.: fairies, unicorns, dragons, gods.
It's not about 'proof', it's about reason.
posted by signal at 7:57 AM on August 27, 2005


Spock my question; whether you found theists or members of a specific religion similarly or more arrogant than atheists, was at least somewhat genuine. I was trying to make a point, but I'm also authentically curious about your opinion on the matter.
posted by I Foody at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2005


klangklangston, there's no reason to be an ass. I was merely teasing you, not trying to harass you or antagonize you. I just re-read my last five or so comments, and it doesn't look like I've even said that much to you. You appear to be taking the things I've been saying to other people as personal attacks.

And I have my own evidence for the non-existence of God, although you are right, I cannot ever totally disprove God, because, well, we might as well be living in the Matrix for all we know, but we can hope the real world has a better plot.

Here are a few drops of what I would consider evidence/the reason I don't believe in God:
1. I do not have trouble concieving of a universe that exists without the influence of an all-powerful sentient being.
2. While I cannot say why or how the universe exists, I do not see any reason to think sentience is involved in the matter.
3. I have not seen any evidence of an omniescent being.
4. I do not believe omniescence to be possible.
5. None of the qualities ascribed to God--morality, love, seem to extend beyond the organic domain.
6. I know about humanity's tendency and need to anthropomorphize.
7. I have reached out to "God/Jesus/Anybody who's home" and heard the cosmic dial tone.

But, like I've said, and many have said before, if the amount of required evidence is infinite, then nothing can be proven.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2005


Well, that should have been "why or how the universe can exist." I know how the universe exists; information. But I may be nailed as arrogant for saying that. So I think you should all know that I'm too mature to ever be arrogant.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2005


The arrogance that I was speaking of is the arrogance that what we know now is the end-all and be-all of our understanding.

Well put. What drives me batty aren't beliefs that have failed to meet some sort of rigorously empirical standard, per se, so much as the all-too-casual retrofitting of "the gods of our fathers' fathers" to any and all things that currently escape what we know now. God of the gaps, and all that.

The ineffable is just that. So stop effin' with it (i.e., giving it names, projecting human qualities and dispositions onto "it" etc.), people! I guess that makes me more of a soft agnostic / potential deist than anything, but because I still think there's room for a probabilistic approach (i.e., I'm thinking of the standard of proof in, e.g., legal as opposed to scientific reasoning) then it's still consistent for me to say that, absent any further compelling evidence, I don't have reasonable grounds to claim that it's likely the sort of entity that the world's Abrahamic faiths claim exists actually does exist.

That's what I was getting at with the: "you're the one saying there's something out there: so demonstrate why I should share your belief" stuff.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:14 AM on August 27, 2005


I think klangklangston is trying to prove by example that believers in God can be more arrogant and obnoxious than atheists. I'm convinced.
posted by boaz at 11:43 AM on August 27, 2005


joe lisboa, it's pretty easy to say that God exists when you refuse to give him any attributes. It's a bit like saying "nothing" exists, which even I would agree too. Maybe "God" should become a synonym for "nothing."

Hey dude, what you up to?
Eh, God.

This ain't worth God, dude!

posted by Citizen Premier at 12:10 PM on August 27, 2005


I Foody: I'm a bit amused at how the conversation turned into what I personally find arrogant.(Who cares?) It doesn't matter what category or denomination of people you are referring to (theist, or whomever). Individually they are arrogant if they believe that their view "can't be wrong" or that it is the only view that a reasonable/intelligent/rational person can possibly believe.
posted by spock at 1:36 PM on August 27, 2005


Spock: I'm also a big fan of logic, but MeFites tend to worship at its altar as if IT is the end-all and be-all of truth.

Logic is the be-all and end-all of proof, which is, after all, the subject of this thread, so I don't see how you can fault people for focusing on it.
posted by pracowity at 3:05 PM on August 27, 2005


While it sounds very admirable to not believe something until it is proved, you are being quite hippocritical if you think that you believe ONLY those things that are scientifically proven.

Spock, why didn't you answer my 6 questions?
posted by dgaicun at 10:29 PM on August 27, 2005


pracowity, pracowity, despite your tone (’quaint little thing called time’ indeed) I will answer your question.
Sorry for the lateness.
...did you even look up Boethius?

He covers the philosophical ramifications of being outside of time.
We’ve had plenty of posts on perspective here (Spock & Creosote’s allusion to flatland - here is the text again: http://ebbs.english.vt.edu/20th/txts/abbott/flat01.html ).
But to lay it down: if our being outside of time knows what you will do tomorrow, it is because he can see it as it has already happened. Much like you can see a pencil as it is ‘now’. It has happened. You can see the tip, the middle, and the eraser all at once. To a being stuck on a single plane of existance - in this example moving through time, he sees the tip appear, the shaft then the eraser.
One could then conclude (our single plane person thinks) the tip causes the eraser. If someone knew the shaft would follow the tip and the eraser would follow the shaft, he could then change the ‘pencilness’ of the event. If he cannot, he is not omnipotent.

Obviously this is a specious piece of reasoning.

God exists outside of time the way you exist outside your computer screen reading these words. One word does not cause the other. There is a creator of the words and the words exist in time, yet they are of a piece to one who is outside much like any 3 dimensional object exists as a single piece.

Furthermore - God IS omnipotent, by my definition, he is everything that can, does, and will occur. What then could be more powerful?
Wordplay and irrational questions are not limiters - the ‘squared circle’ and so forth. They are merely non-sensical questions.

To paraphrase a Zen koan - the enlightened man is one with the law of causation.
The natural laws ARE the will of God. Our inability to reconcile certain aspects of that are limits in our own understanding.
That God “can’t” violate natural laws are, similarly, non-sensical.
(So can God make a rock so heavy he can’t lift it?
That a rock cannot - not be a rock, doesn’t negate the fact of it.
God is the rock, the gravity which pulls on it and the force which seeks to lift it. Wherein lies the flaw? In the “can’t” of our own understanding. Your own arm has muscles which oppose each other.)

Is the sun (you know, that quaint yellow star in the center of our solar system) powerless because it cannot ‘choose’ to change your actions tomorrow?
It certainly could if it wanted to. So is it the choosing or the power to interfere which is confusing you?

That aside:
In essence you seek to impose human elements on ‘omnipotence’.
Particularly with this concept of ‘sin’ which I don’t ascribe to.
So you similarly impose your own limitations on thought on me.
Insulting.
I’m not even in the same spiritual neighborhood as those who believe in ‘sin’
I’m certainly not in the same intellectual stadium, not even the same league, as those who deal in original sin and flat earth-esque concepts.
I’ve read (greedily) Hawking’s work, Dirac, Godel, etc. etc. etc. I’m a big science fan. Particularly physics. (I don’t have the degrees though) But I see nothing in the sciences that contradicts my (previously illustrated) concept of God. If something does, I tend to update it, like any good theory.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:03 PM on August 30, 2005


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