No, I'm not 100% sure but if there is, he is one sadistic bastard. I would say I am 99.9999999999999999, etc.. sure.
A thing either exists or it does not. If we are to assert that something exists, we must offer at least a vaguely coherent definition of the thing. For those who are on some sort of language auto-pilot, why do you assume that "God" is an actual word when you are unable to define it? Most attempts to define God break down to oxymorons, meaning they contradict themselves and are disproved by their own terms, or synonym degradation... meaning that God is defined as love or the universe or everything. I believe in love and the universe. But I don't allow that God is a suitable synonym for such and think that people who believe in this "God" are atheistic.
So, if we define God as the all loving, all powerful, all knowing creator of existence, then such a thing exists or it does not. 100% yes or 100% no.
Like flipping a coin. Once it falls, the odds that it's heads is either 100% or 0%. Your chances of guessing are 50/50. But your guess does not affect the past event.
We arrive at 50/50 because there are two sides of a coin. So, on what data are these 99.999...% doubts based? We define a coin... we know it has two sides, one heads, one tails... we have data and a definition of the object. Yet here we have people giving numbers based on no definition and no data.
This recklessness is not science.
You can pretend you are a scientist and pretend you are an atheist, but you are neither. You are grasping at mysticism.
The probability for the existence of any one of the huge variety of defined and ill-defined gods is not binomial.
You are right, however, to ask how anyone on this forum can come up with a probability rating for something where the number of parameters is unknown.
In my case, it is a mind-plucked approximation to the level of doubt I have about the existence of a Christian-style god with Believer-provided characteristics that are contradictory and change from one Believer to another, and even from one Believer across the span of their life-time.
If you were in the forest and came upon a group of people who were trying to clear some land by using axes, and you had with you a chain saw – but that you needed a little help to get started – then how would you proceed if they declined to even look at the chainsaw, on grounds of its not being an axe?
I’ve posted several times here at AN during the past few weeks, on this thread and others, but with virtually no response. I anticipate the same this time, but, just in case:
How Do We Know?
This essay has been condensed from correspondence with friends and critics based on my main essay (Truth?) and another of its subsidiaries (Crystal Blue Persuasion). In each of these I imply both that I have a functional procedure for knowledge selection, and that this is unusual. In Crystal Blue Persuasion I suggest that none of our ancient systems of institutionalized irrationality can be functionally selected. I mean by this that they cannot be justified as knowledge through any procedure that we can honestly see to be capable of such. I offer as an implication from this that all of us who do now believe ourselves to have a functional procedure should move to opening our dialogs with theists at that level. Specifically, that we should extend to them the invitation that if they will first work with us to arrive at a procedure that both parties can understand to be able to select proposals then we will work with them to apply that procedure to the defining proposals of their theism. And then, if selected, that we will immediately and publically embrace those proposals.
The answer to such an invitation that I would expect from an intellectually honest debating opponent would be: “OK then, go ahead and put your own knowledge selection procedure [KSP] on the table. Explain it to me as clearly as you can, and I will either accept it, or question it, or suggest modifications to it, or offer what I believe to be a better one”. I am writing this essay to do that. I will briefly outline my own KSP, and then answer what I anticipate will be the main questions or objections to it. We will then consider where this leaves me, and us, in relation to the theists.
First, in overview, the procedure functions as a linear hierarchy. By ‘linear’ I mean that it must yield a clear determination on any proposal submitted to it; as it has no branch points and terminates in a single and unambiguous selection gate. By ‘hierarchy’ I mean that I cannot select through a lower gate any proposal that I can see to stand in logical opposition to one that is selectable through a higher. This also obligates me to a continuous process of internal sifting and refinement of my entire body of knowledge. In reference back to Point #1 of my main essay, the procedure explicitly yields ‘best present knowledge’, but it just as explicitly rules out anything that I might reasonably call ‘truth’.
5. I accept at my highest level of certainty all proposals grounded in observations that are both objectively measurable and on-demand repeatable. I include in this blanket acceptance of all of the current proposals of science. I admittedly don't know all of these, but (A) I can clearly understand the scientific method (how it selects proposals as knowledge) and can see that measurable and on-demand-repeatable observation is its ultimate determinant, and (B) I can see that in general and across the board the proposals themselves work. I drive the cars, talk on the cell phones and fly in the airplanes whose designs I can understand - through the amount of scientific knowledge that I do have - to be based exactly upon scientific proposals.
4. I accept all proposals that are grounded in my own direct observations, but which fail on one or both of the critical qualifications for Level 5 (so, are not objectively measurable, and/or are not on-demand repeatable). I would offer my proposals that are outlined in ‘Spirituality sans Theism’ (another of the subsidiary essays to ‘Truth?’) as good examples of Level 4 acceptance.
3. I have accepted a great many proposals (ideological, ethnic, political, historical, etc.) merely on the basis of their having been passed to me before I had enough knowledge at Levels 4 and 5 – and thereby associated development of reason – to have any kind of effective BS shields in place. This is the level at which I am most actively engaged in raking back through and weeding out, to increase consistency with my proposals embraced at levels 4 and 5. But I am finding this process slow and hard. In the meantime I must sadly accept that much of my knowledge held at this level is simply wrong.
2. I accept proposals that appear to be being offered in good faith and by generally reasonable people who don't stand to gain appreciably from my acceptance. This is the level of honest speech with people who seem to know their subjects, and the reading of apparently authoritative books.
1. I accept proposals from any source whatsoever (politicians, lawyers, comic books, fortune cookies, etc.) if they are sufficiently emotionally gratifying and/or consilient with enough of what I am already holding as knowledge at higher levels.
The first objection that I anticipate to this is that #3 is not functioning as an honest selection level. That I have had to insert it as a fait accompli, simply to account for much of my present knowledge. I will admit that, but offer that no believable human KSP could be constructed without something like Level 3. I will also note that I would have liked to change the order of Levels 2 and 3. Level 3’s dominance is again more an issue of fait accompli reflection than of choice.
To return now to my opening paragraph’s offer: I will embrace, on the spot, any theistic proposal that can be selected as knowledge through this procedure. Or, if any theist wishes to propose an alternative procedure that I can understand to be equally capable of discrimination between knowledge and non-knowledge, I will switch to that (being, after all, genuinely desirous of agreeing with him if at all possible) and so – assuming him to be able to complete the step of showing me that his procedure does indeed select them – to all of his theistic proposals.
Let me state bluntly that I believe this to be an unprecedented offer. That the debate between our two sides can be seen to have been in progress for at least the past 2500 years, but that throughout this period each side has been accusing the other of unfairness in their insistence upon application of their own epistemic rules of engagement. My offer is to proceed on the basis of any coherent set of such rules whatsoever. To finally settle our disagreement through submittal of their theistic proposals (or our logically exclusive naturalistic ones, the result will be the same) to any set of selection gates that can actually be seen* to be capable of settling disagreements.
*To be clear: I don’t think that selection through desire (feeling the proposal’s ‘truth’ in one’s heart) can be thus understood. Desire can be seen to be selecting now, and to have been selecting throughout our species’ history, logically exclusive proposals. In what sense can we say that a selection gate that we can see to be passing both X and contra-X is selecting? Selection through the authority of holy texts, or through numerical reinforcement (“well, all of my friends and neighbors believe X”), and – so far as I can determine – through all of the theist’s other traditionally offered gates, can be seen to suffer from this same problem. To consider as an example only the texts: Those of the Christians say X, while those of the Muslims say Y (which, observably, logically excludes X), while those of the Jews say Z (which, observably, logically excludes both X and Y), and so on. I would suggest that the clearest observation that can be made about all of the theist’s traditionally offered gates is that they are unable, in any coherent sense, to select. I think that we should go ahead and point this out to them. Let them answer the charge. Let them show us at last some more functional justification for their proposals than pure wishful thinking. Or, if they can’t, then let us see what fresh progress that realization may open up in our debate. Most simply, I am suggesting that their illusion of legitimacy for their proposals rests on a foundation level epistemological bluff, and that we finally call them on it.