I was wondering about the different theories Atheists have about how our Universe came to be, what happened before the big bang? Or did that even happen? Obviously a theist generally believes God made everything happen, what are your thoughts?
Well, what excites me is that with every theory that gets closer to describing the uni or multi verse, there comes more fantastic advances in technology that affect the layman's life. With Einstein, there came the atom bomb and fission reactors generating electricity. With particle physics, there came computers. Now there is synthetic life (oh! what technologies that will bring).
I thoroughly enjoy reading or hearing about technological advances.
I don't understand where that "you may not be of our number though" comes from?! Unless you are saying that it is sufficient to say "Well, I don't believe what theists believe" and be done with it. I happen to find conversations, thoughts, research into the alternatives to a given theory somewhat interesting.
I suppose you could take Lacey's post as an example of what can happen in a discussion with a theist:
Theist: I believe ....
A-Theist: Well, I don't believe [what was just said] ....
Theist: Well, then, what do you believe ....
A-Theist: Well, I think that [something else] ...
A-Theist: I don't think your question can be answered ...
A-Theist: I don't think your question makes sense because ....
I personally have no problem with knowledge being defined as "justified true belief." In my life, however, I try to minimize the belief parts in favor of the "justified" and "truth" [conditions] part of the equation.
Larry, I won't go as far as you do but I have been trying, as a personal project, to not use the word "believe" when I really mean "think" or "know" or "accept." Sometimes it is easier than other times. Given that I, occasionally at least, have to communicate with others, I can't assign just one meaning unless it is in a conversation where there is sufficient time bring that up as part of the conversation.
Larry, you wrote this on 23rd November which I have just read: "I have seen so many boondoggles arise over that one word "believe" that I have assigned it one meaning only, in my mind. That is: "to accept as true something for which there is insufficient or inadequate evidence to support reasonable or logical acceptance of it as such."
Do you not mean "sufficient or adequate evidence" ?
Yes, that's better. The point is clear. You are saying that you define "to believe" as
"to accept as true that for which there is insufficient evidence" and that is what godbots do [whereas rational people need "sufficent evidence" in order to accept and believe.
Actually, your definition includes quite well what the Oxford English Dictionary is saying. The OED (which was founded by and seems to be maintained by christians) says [this is slightly abbreviated by me]
1. To have confidence or faith in, and consequently to rely upon.
2. To give credence to
3. To believe in a person or thing.
and "to hold as true the existence of ".
So the best procedure for rationalists is to avoid using the word altogether unless with extreme care.
I've managed to eliminate the use of the word "believe" in every way but the true sense of the meaning. It was hard to do at first but once I wrapped my head around it it got easier.
I act as expert witness from time to time and I never say "I believe such and such is true.." in my reports. I'll always say "In my opinion" or "In my experience" or some such other phrase. Maybe I'm being too pedantic but like Larry I don't believe in anything. I do, however, accept the facts if they are compelling.
I get what you are saying Marc, but "believe" has more meanings than "taking something on blind faith". Belief can simply stand for what we accept as true. The ambiguity of the term is why I stay away from it, but an atheist can use it and not be a crackpot.
The big bang = (t --> 0+)lim[Universe(t)], where t is time, of course.
I will not venture to say "believe", as that word is held sacred by the assmasses, and using it while some of them might read it leaves me vulnerable to their interpretations of it and of me as having used it in their interpretation. I think that there is no "before the big bang", just like there is no "below the bottom", "slower than not moving", or "greater than infinity", and for the same reason: These relative positions in conceptual spaces are made not merely from but on an axis, and where that axis doesn't exist a measurement on that axis necessarily cannot be made.
I took this a step further, and listed everything on a dimensional axis: yellowness, dirtiness, cleanness, obscurity, graphability, gayness, trueness (however it's spelled), falsity, transcendentality, differentiability, and all the rest of everything forever and assigned each as a dimension. Some of these have potentially continuous graphs across their domains, like yellowness, as there are varying degrees. Some are either 1 or 0, like falsity and differentiability. The kicker, the killer, the game-changer was existence.
Existence(unicorns) = 0
Existence(God) = 0
Existence(the universe) = 1
If the big bang is the origin of everything, then that should include existence, since to do otherwise would just be special pleading without a rigorous proof of why existence should be exempt from it. Thus, Existence(subject=anything, t<0) = 0. Existence itself is a subject, so Existence(subject=Existence, t<0) = 0. With existence not existing on the other side of the origin of everything, that means, ultimately, that everything that exists (which is somehow conceptually different from just saying "everything" somehow) exists in the universe, which in turn means that the universe contains everything that exists: This is it--all of it.
If this is all of existence, then that really does settle a lot of questions. It doesn't answer them; it makes them irrelevant, answering them with an empty set: "Why are the physical constants the values they are?"
"Because that's the only value they can assume, this universe being the whole of reality and all."
Furthermore, and lastly, if this whole big pie is true, then with enough information, we could deduce the values of physical constants.
...Somewhere in there I stopped answering the question "What do you believe?" and just started going on about what the implications are, my beliefs and ideas aside.