I wanted to put this question out there to see how strongly everyone feels on this subject. Being that most of us trust in scientific fact and reasoning, I was wondering if everyone is absolutely, undeniably, 100% sure that a god doesn't exist.  I personally take into account that there is no proof of any cosmic creator so therefore I am about 99.9999% sure that there is no god. However we all agree that science is an ever evolving field and I don't think that there will ever be any proof to support the existence of a supreme being, but I can't be 100% sure until there is concrete proof against one. I would like to know what all of your thoughts on this.  

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Understanding the entire universe or knowing what is beyond its limits is not rational. An individual consciousness (redundant), which is the only thing that can have knowledge, can only know a part of the whole. We can describe and make theories about more and more of the world that we perceive, but there is most certainly limits to what we can perceive, and hence have knowledge about. The quantum world is one limit to our perception. The very large cosmic scale universe is another. The past. The future. We are simply localized self-aware organizations of universe that can perceive, make knowledge about through reason, predict and manipulate other aspects of the universe, which is simply an abstract concept representing all of existence, all things that did, do and will exist. We can say that we have knowledge about what is going on between the ultra-micro and the ultra-macro. This reality operates by constant laws, even if they vary in different places in the universe due to some other quantum, relativity, dark matter or whatever. In the universe, books slide when pushed and balls roll, I'm sure of it. Our knowledge, which is formed directly, from causal interactions of matter from perception to concept formation to integration, comparison and contrasting by reason and logic is valid and true.

I think we can validly call something knowledge, when it is a concrete concept that integrates into a knowledge base without logical contradiction. If a contextually non-contradictory concept can be reduced to perceptual evidence by deduction, it is valid. I think knowledge can be described in different ways, but the kind I am referring to is the explicit kind, and I hold the above statements in this paragraph to be the essentials. Implicit knowledge is that which we accept and use without conscious decision, like the axioms of thought or riding  a bicycle. Explicit knowledge is, say, that Springfield is the capital of Illinois or, say that in order to properly conceptualize something, you need to retain only the essential characteristics and omit the arbitrary differences or measurements or that all bachelors are unmarried.

I did not mean to suggest that total knowledge about a particular thing is impossible, although I find the two words total and knowledge right next to each other disconcerting. However, I think total knowledge about a very simple particular thing might be possible, well,............ consider 2+2. Simple concept, right? Is 4 the only thing we can know about this? 

That being said, total knowledge in general is definitely impossible because a singular mind cannot be everywhere at once or measure everything everywhere always. Something with total knowledge would be god and as we all know, this is one very invalid and impossible idea. Something that could perceive the entire universe all at once would have to be outside it, which, again fails. A consciousness entails matter being spread over distinct areas that interact with each other. They are needed to be separate to function and cannot possibly do anything more than their share; they are limited. They must be some things and not others. Identity precludes omniscience.

I think the concept of perfection cannot be found to exist. The ideal may be manifest, but not the perfect.

 

MCT,

I am mostly in agreement with what you write about epistemology. In fact you are the arch villain in the world of religion and occult and its spinoffs. That part is great.  It is just that you come across doctrinaire and intransigent. To steal a line you see all things in the most convenient terms and simplest definitions. 

I don't know what doctrin you refer to, but simple, sure, maybe even convenient, but these are not the essential characteristics of what I base my principles on. Causality, objectivity and non-contradiction are and because of that they tend to be simple and convenient, but more pertinent is their literalness and direct description of the real world, devoid of irrationality and mysticism. If one uses metaphor to describe something, they either don't understand it enough to call it knowledge or they are describing their feelings. We do not need super-circuitous lengthy colorful description to describe what really is and to call things like we see them instead of how we want them to be. I am supremely intransigent when it comes to the idea that the impossible can happen. And if something happens to be simple and convenient, it does not mean that it is more likely to be inaccurate. I might argue the opposite.

Hi Leveni,

No god indoctrination here either. So it probably seems incongruous for me to use the word god.  However, there was an explanation given and I in no way meant to convey anything supernatural. I am an atheist and an anti-theist.

The cave is a way of illustrating the ever popular literary theme of appearance reality. But in the case of Plato he meant it in a deeper way than what we have so often seen in literature. I am not saying we do not have the tools to know what knowledge is. I am saying that the breadth of our penetration is limited. I am very skeptical of our ability to really understand things. I suspect that even the word reality is a construct not actually found in nature. Reality if there be such has levels. So no, I do not think we will ever get to the bottom of things.

And as you say maybe that is preferable to have the dog to continue to chase its tail.

"I suspect that even the word reality is a construct not actually found in nature."

-My god, Glen. WTF? Reality is all of nature. And you say that the word we use to hold in place and communicate the concept of everything doesn't actually exist within everything? Bonkers. Then wtf are we perceiving, if not reality? A nebulous Platonic inaccurate representation of the real unknowable world? Our brains are pattern recognition machines evolved precisely to have knowledge about this world we have successfully evolved through over the millennia. Our ability to form knowledge through reason is easily apparent. It is laughable that you are typing your thoughts onto the keyboard in front of you, posting them on this electronic social network and almost instantly sharing these thoughts with people from all over the world, and yet you simultaneously claim that our ability to really understand things is doubtful. Incorrigible.

Hi Glen,

 

I read the play.

 

Parables and Fables are an easy way to express an opinion. The problem with parables and fables is that they are not meant to be taken literally and they are open to interpretation. 

 

One thing I often hear people say is that if we took a video camera back to the middle ages, everybody would consider it witchcraft. But I disagree. Some people may consider it to be witchcraft while others would consider it a machine built by man. I also think that when Galileo build his telescopes, people of his time probably said; if this was taken back to Roman times the Romans would have thought it witchcraft. But again, I don't think so. If technology is explained properly, we humans will understand it.

 

If UFO's are true, I don't believe them to be true though, but if they are true, I wouldn't think they ran by witchcraft. And if the 4th dimension is true, I don't think it is true though, but if it is, I would not think travelling via the 4th dimension to be witch craft, especially if it was explained to me. 

 

I understand the point Plato is making. But his point is a self-fulling prophecy. If is say I know what is real, and what isn't real, Plato will answer me by saying my reality is a shadow on the wall. For me his story is just a play on words.

 

Science is not a self-fulling prophecy. It can be proven to be wrong. It is not a story that appeals only to our abstract abilities, science is not a play on words.

 

 

MCT,

I am essentially in agreement with you except where it comes to understanding the universe's inner workings. I dont think we have the capacity to understand. That in no way is meant to detract from epistemology. 

When I refer to no reality I am asserting that there is no whole concrete integrated explanation. Matter seems to regress endlessly. Without fundamental particles it seems to me that there will be no way for us to make sense of things. Neither creation nor permanence makes sense. And our brains are indeed pattern recognition tools which are ill equipped to decipher the endless scientific puzzles of the micro and macro world. Cant prove it, strongly suspect it is so. 

The doctrinaire comment is not about any particular doctrine. It is your tendency to utterly embrace a way of thinking. That can leave you vulnerable when there is any chink in the school of thought. Historically, doctrinaire thinking is a disaster.  You do it with epistemology and libertarianism.

What inner workings are you referring to?

Not having the capacity to understand is not compatible with writing a sentence stating anything, let alone that we cannot understand. You must understand implicitly the axioms of existence, consciousness and identity as well as the explicit understanding of the meanings of the words you are using, understanding the rules of grammar and syntax as well as reason if you are to make any sense, which at least, you do by grammar, if not logic.

By permanence, you mean eternal? Eternal is the only way reality can be. This makes valid sense. A state of nothingness is not compatible with logic, for it would necessarily continue forever. That reality is here, it must be eternal. This is not contradictory.

Knowledge is limited. It must be since it resides inside the skull of a singular entity, which can only perceive in a subjective manner. We can, however, gain limited contextually valid knowledge about this place we call existence. We do not need to know what is going on just outside of Alpha Centauri right now to have contextually valid knowledge that I am typing right now. We also do not need a complete non-contradictory theory of quantum mechanics to know that, for sure, if you let go of a balloon filled with helium, in this atmosphere, its buoyancy will overpower gravity's hold on it and the net force will be directed upwards. And you do not need science to prove that we use our brains to gain knowledge. Though you need to know that to do science, at least implicitly.

And you're damn right I embrace a way of thinking; it is called rationality. I properly and validly reject the use of metaphor, feelings and contradictory ideas as a source of knowledge. It is not helpful to remain open to irrationality. If one can show me where my thinking is erroneous and it is consistent with reason, then I will amend my world-view, but rampant skepticism and postmodern drivel doesn't cut it.

Hi Leveni.

Point taken with respect to parables, fables and metaphors. Although there are instances where those devices convey ideas or nuances that a more direct communication will not. Good poetry conveys more than it says. And digression is the oxygen of intelligence. Like the limited universe, the barren linguistic parlance is not always ideal.

Not certain where you are going with the introduce future technology scenario. Video camera more foreign than instrument of magnification. And considering the propensity for burning witches for any little deviation or hysteria think there is something to the belief.

Dont see the shadows as metaphor for subjective understanding, rather objective reality. Dont understand how it is a play on words. Agree with your statement re science. 

Bottom line the capability of humans to get to the bottom of things is unknowable. It might be interesting to know which side of the issue theoretical physicists are on. Presumably theists of all stripes say that all of reality is uncovered. 

Hi Glen,

Not certain where you are going with the introduce future technology scenario. Video camera more foreign than instrument of magnification. And considering the propensity for burning witches for any little deviation or hysteria think there is something to the belief.

Dont see the shadows as metaphor for subjective understanding, rather objective reality. Dont understand how it is a play on words. Agree with your statement re science. 

My reference to technology was the way I interpreted Plato's fable. The way you see Plato's fable and the way I see his fable may be very different. Or maybe I need to explain why I put technology in my example.

 

 

I think that because you can't prove a negative, it isn't necessary to consider whether or not there is "concrete proof against one".  If the positive claim, that a god exists, is not supported, I am justified in rejecting it out of hand, which makes me 100% certain that there is no god, just as I am 100% certain that there is no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy.

MCT,

By inner workings I mean understanding the universe, ultimate cause, how, when, where, unifying principle, etc. So many of the physicist's theories sound more like fiction than science fiction.

One can have capacity to understand simple arithmetic without capacity to understand trigonometry. Likewise some aspects of the universe, not all of it. Epistemology is a wonderful tool for the vast majority of issues. But it is a human conceit to assume that our rules can judge of origins or ultimate cause or ever get a handle on the nature of things. (The pattern is to uncover greater complexity.) When you apply epistemology in a doctrinaire way you fail to appreciate the possibility it has these limitations.

Your statement re the eternal makes sense in a vacuum. But creationless existence does not make sense. And creation or creator begs the question.

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