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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Your position is tautological if it comes from ONLY an "objective reality" takes precedence over "subjective reality" approach.  What you call "self-evident" will always come from the perspective of an individual requiring recognition and approval of others - the same thing others do in churches.  Can you create a system approach to convert the religious by an extremist position?  I ask you and anyone else purporting your consistent absolutist perspective.  Remember:  I stand staring, steadfast and speechless, with those religious extremist so codified in their rancor that they put me in a position to have to physically defend myself.  Their "objective reality" precedence, in not even trying to investigate ontological "subjective reality", opens the door for some to go terrorist.  Those extremists do it out of belief.  And if the likes of you and others continue going down this same road, you put me in the position of having to also stand staring, steadfast and speechless, wondering which one of you are going to make a move causing me to have to physically defend myself regardless if your motive is based on knowledge.  I ask you to please consider leaving off this tautological, absolute only T or F (100% vs 99.99999%) mindset as to not marginalize yourself in the whole Non-Theist group.  The subset of religious groups which become terrorists are the codified absolutists.  The subset of our group (Non-Theists) are the same - codified absolutists.  No, I'm not calling you a terrorist.  But your sermons (and others with the same extremist position) are quite dangerous.

I will not concede subjective reality for the purpose of not becoming marginalized. It is like you are telling me to not be so adherent to truth as to not get along with people who don't get it. I will not sell out. Go ahead marginalize me. The truth remains. There is one reality and we can have knowledge of it. I am right on point. I cannot be marginalized from what is the real nature of reality. I am not purporting to know everything (that is impossible). I am saying that we can manipulate nature so well because we are built to understand this place. This is what our brains do, make objective knowledge of reality. That is how we communicate and how we do science.

There is no subjective reality. There is only subjective perception of objective reality. It is not that we are aware of our thoughts that make us sure that we exist and then maybe reality exists. Our first perception is of something, in reality. We are not first aware of our thoughts. We are first aware of something,. An entity. With identity. Existence has primacy over consciousness. Consciousness having priority over existence is a most mystical idea. Plato was wrong about the noumenal world as Christians are wrong about heaven as new age postmodern skeptics are wrong about subjectivity and the primacy of consciousness. My arguments have a firm basis on the axioms of cognition that stem directly from what is self-evident about reality. Existence comes first, then perception, then concept formation. Once we reach concept formation and use reason based on noncontradiction, we can have objective knowledge. This is the only thing we all have in common. A reality, based on subjectivity would be meaningless.

I like how you are saying that my certainty is wrong. Are you sure about that? Over and over and over, skeptics use skepticism when they shouldn't. It is a blatant contradiction to assert with certainty that I cannot have certainty.

I admit; I am a radical for reason. If your definition of religious is demonstrating a commitment to intellectual honesty, noncontradiction and the law of identity then, fine, I'm religious. However, I consider no book, leader, person, group of persons, tradition to be an absolute authority. I do not pray. I do not use metaphor alone as a sufficient source of knowledge. I do not congregate with others to sing and chant about mysticism which I also do not have. This is the problem with you people. You refuse to define your concepts with essential characteristics only. I am not at all religious. I am as far from religious as one can get. Your arbitrary definition of concepts would certainly make reality appear subjective, but this is not the case. We can have certain contextually valid knowledge about this world. Not perfect knowledge or knowledge everything, but neither of those are necessary. In fact our limited brains and our limited ability to perceive preclude them.

That I may have certainty in common with a religious fundamentalist is arbitrary. That you have mysticism in common with religious fundamentalists is not. Things do only what is dictated by their structure and momentum. Things cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same way. We form objective concepts about reality by retaining the essential aspects of a thing an omitting the arbitrary measurements of those characteristics. We integrate these concepts into a knowledge base contextually and hierarchically without contradiction, with the use of reason. This is the basis of science and our ability to communicate to each other. And no amount of new science will get us to an understanding that the foundations of science, noncontradiction and causality, are invalid, for those are what we use to verify, even when probing the limits of our perception where probability theory is necessary to predict outcome.

Certainty does not create violence. Irrationality does. I am a peaceful person, for the most part, and frequently express my understanding of how the non-aggression principle is moral, because it is rational. Adhering to reason and objective reality does not a terrorist make. Believing we can have knowledge based on non-essentials, metaphor, revelations, intuition or feelings is how we get violence.

We can communicate our agreement about the nature of reality by using objective language. There is a process involved. Church folk agree about their mystical metaphysics without the support of reason. That I need a third party perspective to prove something is still dependent on noncontradiction and causality. This is not in common with faith. It is faith that is the problem. Not certainty and not third party perspective or proof. It is not religious or subjective that we both have objective knowledge about where Chicago is in the world; it is rational and cannot lead to violence. You would need to base an aggressive act on emotion, irrationality or rational defense. Your plight of worrying about which gnostic atheist would attack you is silly. No one would ever use rationality as a basis for attacking you in any other way other than self-defense or in the very rare circumstance of severely scarce resources.

You are a postmodern multi-culturalist. 'Don't judge too firmly, we all want to get along.' I bet you have a 'COEXIST' bumper sticker. Well some ideas are bad and should be pointed out as such. In today's society, as you are showing now, it is OK to have beliefs, and we should respect them, as long as there is at least a little mysticism involved. Words have actual meanings and things actually do exist, one way or another, but not both, and that is for sure. Skepticism opens the door to mysticism. And mysticism and subjectivity leads to violence. Not reason and objective reality. Our culture is swamped and mired in postmodern phantasmagorical gobbledy-gook so much so that our academic scientists are purporting mystical foundations to the universe, which is epistemologically impossible. But hey, they have fancy degrees from fancy universities and everyone's religious beliefs fit well under this umbrella so great, let's all hold hands and be gay for the non-intelligible spiritual universe. The colors I feel about it light up my heart with the embodiment of consciousness becoming. Oooooo, how wise. It's pathetic. It is the denial of the objective reality we all share that leads to war and hampers prosperity, not certain knowledge that, while many things are yet to be learned, the impossible cannot happen.

Preach on Pastor... Preach on.  I actually used to be in your corner.  I was raised a Christian until enlightened by its blatant silliness - then a converted hardcore Atheist, borderline militant.  Now, I'm simply anti-extremist.  But, I haven't lost the realization that all language and conversation be damned when forced into physically defending myself.  Subjective 'reality' AND Objective 'reality' are a balance.  Neither reigns supreme.  I'll still be standing and staring until you or one of your disciples decides to act - the same as any of those religious extremists.  Preach on...

That's your response? Very thoughtful, Marc. More emotion based metaphor. You are clearly more religious of the two of us, holding on dearly to the blatantly contradictory principle of foundational skepticism. You completely ignore objective definition. Since you are convinced that I am religious, it is clear that you have only arbitrary emotion guiding your definition. Nothing of what you write can be said to represent what you are actually meaning to say. People will always have an arbitrary understanding of what you mean by your essentially meaningless, and arbitrarily defined, words.

Without objective definition, we cannot have knowledge of reality, we can only share feelings, which are not very precise. While we do not need prefect precision for valid knowledge, we do need noncontradiction. Metaphor and feelings do not provide this. I already have an obscure idea of how you feel about it and what you think reality is like, in terms of other things. Teach me something new, about how things actually are, if you can. The yin and the yang. Great. Nice metaphor. You've gone soft and blurry.

Reality cannot be both objective and subjective. Reality was necessarily here before perception. And, then, there was nothing subjective about it. Yet it was here. And that is a fact, for if it were not true we would not be here. Ever heard of evolution? Cosmology? The main thing confusing you and Steven Hawking is that we cannot draw knowledge about epistemology and the foundations of science by using them to probe the limits of our ability to perceive. We can only learn about the metaphysical foundations of reality, which are necessarily not mystical. You cannot use objective concept formation and noncontradiction to verify that they are invalid. Perceptions are subjective. Conceptions are objective. There is one reality and we can have knowledge of it. There is no such thing as subjective knowledge.

You can continue to use this as a standard for truth when your arbitrary definitions fail you, but to be innocently attacked you must wait for the arbitrary that you are familiar with, as you will not find it from me or anyone with the intellectual honesty to stand for objective reality and reason over metaphor for knowledge. Again, as if you didn't even read it before, it is faith, definition by non-essentials, emotion and irrationality that leads to unprovoked violence, not a commitment to noncontradiction and causal law.

Unprovoked violence comes from emotion, like you are clearly influenced by. You have an emotional commitment to a contradictory principle. Skepticism as a foundation is a blatant contradiction, for being certain that certainty is impossible is itself blatantly contradictory. And that's your go-to principle. That is emotional and irrational and where unprovoked violence comes from.

You are improperly equating fervor and certainty with religious. If I say that 2+2=4 and that I am absolutely right about that. That is not religious, but certain and correct. That religious people are, too, certain does not make them correct, incorrect or violent. It is their irrationality, emotions, definitions by non-essential and faith that are the cause of their error and emotional lashing out. You are simply ignoring this and repeating it anyway. That is not intellectually honest. You are not committed to reason, but like using it to suit you and, like other postmodern wizards, then rely on skepticism and subjectivity to blur the lines of meaning until you feel better about your misunderstanding.

Survey.

I am a practitioner of formal logic.

Answer T or F.

True AND False.

"True" in the sense that there are actual Truths.

"True" in the sense that there are actual Falsehoods.

"False" in the sense that Formal Logic REQUIRES that there are ONLY Truths or Falsehoods.  As an Axiom, Formal Logic is a tautology.  I say, there exists valid conclusions to propositions which can be categorized as (T AND F) or (-T AND -F)

Of course, proponents of "Objective Reality takes precedence over Subjective Reality" hate this.  As well, proponents of "Subjective Reality takes precedence over Objective Reality" don't care for it much either.

For me: Just because I hate dealing with contradictions, does not mean I should deny them, dis-categorize them, rationalize them away, and DEFINITELY NOT get so mentally wrapped-up in some Absolute extremist mindset as to somehow justify acting physically against others.

Here's a bumper sticker for you:

Formal Logic can lead to psychological disorders

Hope I'm not the only participant in your survey.  It won't have much use.  LOL

If you sometimes define words with essential meanings and if sometimes you don't, and sometimes you don't, you are not a practitioner of formal logic. You cannot both be and not be a practitioner of formal logic. So, in your case, that would be F, as in False, you are not a practitioner of formal logic. Informal logic is what you practice. And you are in the 100% camp. You are 100% for the impossibility of valid certainty. Or are you only 99.9% sure that we cannot be sure? I think you are opening the flood gates to religious mysticism more than I am creating violence with my certainty of reason.

Your conclusions are valid only if you assume the Formal Logic tautology.  I can be and not be a practitioner of formal logic at the same time.  Neo-Classical Logic is what I have labeled this.  It is not Informal because it is all-inclusive of the Classic Logic format without rejecting as non-valid additional and reasonable categories of conclusions beyond only T or F.  Classical Logic is actually an informal logic system in itself because of its inherent tautological flaw.  But that contradiction is reasonable.  Neo-Classical Logic covers all reasonable conclusions which can be reached by any proposition given - a proper classification for all propositions.  Yes, I have come across a LOT of Informal (Fuzzy) logic systems.  They all dance around the excluded middle without outright denying it.  And they don't offer the additional and reasonable conclusive categories.

The only mysticism in concluding x and -x at the same time is if the additional categories (T and F) or (-T and -F) are used inappropriately, when viable investigations and re-stated propositions would otherwise conclude T or F.  The question posited on this post does not fall in either of the Formal Logic categories.

I know you don't like it.  But contradictions exist.  Of course, not all things are contradictions.  100% vs 99.9999% is a contradiction where the only proper categorical conclusion can be (T and F).  You can continue attempting to force all 'reason' into only your T or F world.  It is proper sometimes; however, other times it can be quite dangerous.  Using Absolute distinctions when discussing the very real and very personal psychological sickness that threatens the lives of very real people everyday is acting as a function of the disorder.

Your point "You are 100% for the impossibility of valid certainty.  Or are you only 99.9% sure that we cannot be sure?" is YOUR attempt to codify my position into YOUR tautological Formal Logic system - to prove your own axiom.

News Flash !!!  Mysticism is alive, well and flourishing in abundance (in the science world as well).

So MCT, my question to you is:  Do you think leadership, along with other qualities, should not only require pragmatic but also utilitarian qualities as well?

Truth dangerous, then so be it, but only because there are mystics who don't see it yet.

Contradictions within reality do not exist. Things only appear contradictory at the limits of our perception, which is where their apparent contradictory manner stays. For building knowledge of entities and how they behave within reality, only what you are calling classical logic works and is appropriate. Your brand of fuzzy logic is only good for mathematical models that predict the behavior of sub-atomic particles. It cannot properly be expanded to include entities within reality or things we can validly say we have knowledge about.

Reality is the standard. It is not tautology. Existence---> perception---->conception---->knowledge. That is a straight line, not a circle. Reality is self-evident. If you deny this, then what are we even talking about? Nothing. A mind without a reality is meaningless.

What you are talking about is only valid for induction as we probe the limits of our perception. In the end, to communicate findings to each other with language, we must use concepts that are able to be reduced to perceptual evidence and which integrate within a knowledge base without contradiction. The law of identity must eventually be satisfied. For to verify something that is found with the use of mystical metaphor or probabilistic math, it must be brought into concrete terms and integrated. Mysticism is only good for induction or indoctrination, but it is not, along with metaphor, sufficient to call something knowledge. Mysticism is alive and well, despite the fact that it hampers reason and progress when used for something other than an imprecise tool for coping with what we are unable to reason. If a mystical idea is proposed, it is checked by the law of identity before it is considered knowledge. Proof requires noncontradiction. Any mystical randomness in the sub-atomic realm must be represented by complex math before it can be talked about using concrete concepts that have specific identities, which are only apparent at the limit of our ability to perceive.

Pragmatism as a tool to get something done as a leader chooses the best possible course of action or advice out of different possible hypotheticals, 'sacrificing' some values, to gain others, fine, but as a fundamental principle from which to lead, no. Pragmatism is not proper when dealing with things that simply are one way. I do not compromise on what might be the answer to 2+2. And anyone who does is leading in the wrong direction. A leader that compromises fundamental principles of truth such as the law of identity or the non-aggression principle is no leader. I do not want a little poison with my food, thanks. I do not want a little mysticism with my reason. And as for utilitarianism, the same. Morality concerns individuals, not groups, so the greatest good for the greatest amount is often contradictory.  The greatest good for the greatest number of individuals, fine.

Being extreme is not bad in and of itself. It matters what one is extreme about. If they are extreme about reason and the nonaggression principle, then that is not a bad thing. If they are extreme about the divine source of the Qur'an, that is very different. It is having mysticism as a sufficient source for knowledge that is the problem, not intensity of conviction. Even if it wasn't incompatible with reason, you value pragmatism, the end result of having mysticism as sufficient for knowledge serves to  blur the line between right and wrong, good and bad. The fact of the matter is, the world actually works in specific ways that are non-negotiable. Ignoring this is bad and can lead to violence.

Faith and the middle ages. Reason and the enlightenment. These don't change because of probability theory or a perceived need to support multi-culturalism. This postmodern crap that started with Plato's magic noumenal world and was supported by Kant's innate ideas is a step backward, despite advances in predicting behavior of small particles, which came from the application of reason, not mysticism. It is not physics that I disagree with, but the false implications mystics draw from the inductive part of learning. And again, remember Ptolemy's superiorly predictive, yet clearly wrong, cosmological model, as compared to Copernicus'. Physics has no business in epistemology.

Ambiguity is a bitch sometimes.

Depends on how you define "god"

Marc, I have been reading your exchanges with MCT and I fail to see how you have made the connection between his world view and his propensity towards violence. Unquestionably a fundamentalist is mindless and acts on the literal word of his good book. But he arrives there by an abdication of reason.

MCT on the other hand is guided by reason. And I assume that his world view would change if there is evidence in the natural world which is contrary to his understanding.

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