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Author Topic: Probability of existence
Javert
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I know there's a Dawkins thread somewhere, but it seems to have slipped off the page. Anyway, I think this deserves a thread of its own.

I just started reading The God Delusion, and one of the first things I loved was the seven point scale Dawkins uses for the probability of God's existence. So, I thought I would post it here and give everyone an opportunity to see where on the scale they fall:

quote:
Where do you stand on the probability of God's existence?

1.0: Strong theist. 100 percent possibility of God. In the words of C.G. Jung, 'I do not believe, I know.'

2.0: Very high probability, but short of 100 percent. De facto theist. 'I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.'

3.0: Higher than 50 percent, but not very high. Technically agnostic, but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.'

4.0: Exactly 50 percent. Completely impartial agnostic. 'God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.'

5.0: Lower than 50 percent, but not very low. Technically agnostic, but leaning towards atheism. 'I don't know whether God exists, but I'm inclined to be skeptical.'

6.0: Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain, but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'

7.0: Strong atheist. 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.'

I'm just curious about the spectrum of people we have here on Hatrack. We know we have Catholics and Mormons and Agnostics and Atheists and everything in between...but I'd be interested to see how many 1.0 Catholics and how many 2.0 Catholics, etc.

Anyway, I'll start and say that I'm roughly a 5. I was born into a Catholic family, but I think it's safe to say I'm somewhat lapsed.

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Jim-Me
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Catholic, lapsed, somewhere around 2.5, which is to say most often 2.0 with occasional, usually brief, bouts of 6.0
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rivka
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Call me 1.5 -- some days it's 1, and some it's 2.
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Tstorm
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6...Leaning toward 7.
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Euripides
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6, but the probability of god's existence is so low that I act as if I'm a 7.
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Mucus
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6.0

I don't have the book on me, but I recall that he also makes an interesting distinction between types of agnostics that is not captured in just the 4.0

The distinction is between agnostics who believe that the existence or non-existence of God cannot be proven or disproven *on principle* and agnostics who believe that the existence or non-existence of God has not been *proven yet.* I thought that was an interesting distinction to make because I was probably closer to the former in the past, before really thinking about it and moving to the 6.

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King of Men
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Depends on what you mean by 'God'. The Christian version, call me 7. A vaguely theistic sort of Cosmic Niceness, meh, 6.
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Mucus
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A thought occurs. If you really rate the probability of *any* god as 50% as an agnostic, you really have to give any *specific* god a low number.

At six mutually exclusive gods (say Christian God, Xenu, Pangu, Jupiter, Ra, and Baal), your probability that any specific god exists is already only at about 10% since (1-0.1)^6 = 0.53

Wikipedia gives at least 18 mutually exclusive gods which would give each god only about 4% since (1-0.04)^18 = 0.48

This of course assumes that you're a true agnostic who believes not only that it is impossible to prove whether a god exists or does not, but also believes that it is impossible to prove "which" god is the one that exists (which seems pretty reasonable given the first assumption).

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twinky
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6.
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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:

This of course assumes that you're a true agnostic who believes not only that it is impossible to prove whether a god exists or does not, but also believes that it is impossible to prove "which" god is the one that exists (which seems pretty reasonable given the first assumption).

Not necessarily. It doesn't seem that hard to picture someone who is pretty much a four, but for whatever reason has decided that various particular gods have an extremely low probability of existing.


As for the question itself, I'd say that I'm somewhere around a 5 right now, although I have at various points in my life been closer to a high 2.

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Launchywiggin
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3-4 raised baptist. Still have tons of christian friends. Very very unsure either way. I like church for the socialization, the warmth, and the music.

I hate it for the hypocrisy, the dogma, and the politics.

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Javert
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Oh, I should point out for those who don't have the book that Dawkins labels himself as a 6, leaning towards 7.
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Jim-Me
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I don't see how those gods are mutually exclusive, Mucus. In fact it could be argued that Jesus and Baal are mutually inclusive-- the Christian and Jewish scriptures pretty much treat Baal as a real entity.
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Euripides
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You know, I don't think that's particularly important. There's no reason to assume that god is more likely to exist than the invisible pink unicorn or the celestial teapot, so the probability can keep getting smaller and smaller. Also, you could make minor changes to the Christian god and create millions of new permutations, like a god who created the universe except made Eve before Adam, etc. etc.
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Vadon
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I'll go with 4, but Y'know, my problem is that I don't really have much belief either way. It sounds horrible, but I really just... don't care. If there's a God, that's wonderful, I'm glad I'm living a moral life and hope S/He'll see that I tried my darndest to be good. If not, well, I still lived my life to its fullest.
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Amanecer
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6
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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Depends on what you mean by 'God'. The Christian version, call me 7. A vaguely theistic sort of Cosmic Niceness, meh, 6.

I'd say this is pretty accurate for me too.
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Strider
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quote:
6, but the probability of god's existence is so low that I act as if I'm a 7.
yup. [Smile]
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RunningBear
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Yep.

I am a 5 on the whole effective cosmic aether deal too...

7 on deity.

Heaavvyy 7 on Jehovah. And Allah, and etc.

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Earendil18
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I'm a 3.223 [Wink]
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Mean Old Frisco
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I'm a 6.666 [Evil]
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Javert
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Well, it took long enough for satan to show up!

I don't know if this will change anyone's number, but it seems to me that in this scale Richard Dawkins is using "god" to mean any supernatural being/creator. (I was going to just say creator, but I'm sure there are religions with a god that didn't create.) He just uses "god" and "he" to simplify things.

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Tatiana
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I'm a 1. About 12 years ago I changed from a 6.999 to a 1, though. I did the experiment and saw the results. =)
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Krankykat
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quote:
it seems to me that in this scale Richard Dawkins is using "god" to mean any supernatural being/creator
Good point, Javert

1.0) A 100% theist here.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Call me 1.5 -- some days it's 1, and some it's 2.

Ditto.
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Qaz
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Whenever I see the thread I think it's about how likely it is that I exist. I think I'm a 1.1 on that one.
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Belle
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1.0

There were times in my life I would have been a 2.0, perhaps even slipping down to 3.0, but now I don't have any doubts whatsoever.

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pH
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1.

-pH

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Boothby171
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I'm a pure 7.0
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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I'm a 1. About 12 years ago I changed from a 6.999 to a 1, though. I did the experiment and saw the results. =)

What sort of experiment brings someone form 6.999 to 1?
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Boothby171
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Yeah...I was wondering that myself.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Call me 1.5 -- some days it's 1, and some it's 2.

Ditto.
Tritto.
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GaalDornick
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"Depends on what you mean by 'God'. The Christian version, call me 7. A vaguely theistic sort of Cosmic Niceness, meh, 6."

Same.

"I did the experiment and saw the results. =)"

Have you ever wrote a post about this experiment here? I'd be very interested to know about what made you change your mind.

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jlt
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Around 3.5 but my views sort of align with Vadon.
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JennaDean
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1.5. Although much closer to 7 on KoM's version of "God".

Tatiana, was it by any chance this experiment?

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vonk
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5.5 - I think the probability is pretty darn low, but I'm not willing to rule it out. I really hate loosing arguments and if I end up at the pearly gates, that would be a big one to swallow.
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JennaDean
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Good point - if I end up wrong, I'll never know it.
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TomDavidson
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I'm a 6.9 on deism, and around a 5.7 on mushy god(s).
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Dr Strangelove
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1.1

I can't bring myself to say 100%, but I'll say that I am 99.99% sure that there is a God and I definitely try to live my life on that belief.

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Leonide
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6, here
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Call me 1.5 -- some days it's 1, and some it's 2.

Ditto.
Tritto.
Quritto?
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Lisa
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I'm about 90-95% convinced that there's a God, and about 85-90% convinced that Judaism is right about the details.
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Xavier
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I've actually said the statement, or pretty close, that is listed on 6. So that would be my choice.

I admit, however, that in times of great pain or hope, that I am prone to some form of informal prayer. I always feel stupid afterwards, but it happens perhaps once or twice a year.

So perhaps a 5.99, if you figure 6 on most days, and maybe a 4 on the days when I pray.

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Shawshank
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A 1.2 earlier in my life probably 6-7.
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Leonide
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Well, i've done that too, Xav, but i usually attribute it to the heightened emotions of the incident. It is a completely involuntary response, for instance, when i'm driving in a car with a very dangerous driver, to silently pray that we all make it through ok. For me, personally, though, it's more about finding some illusion of control over a situation in which i know i have no Actual control. It's those feelings of helplessness that make me inadvertently call on something "more." But that doesn't mean i really believe, in my heart, that it will make a difference. It's just the action of trying to do something, the effort and attempt at making everything better. For me, personally -- i am definitely NOT trying to say that's what everyone else does when they pray, not even hinting at it. Only speaking about me [Smile]
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Shan
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A 1-2 on the idea that there is some sort of unifying creative force that binds us together.

A less than 7 that ANY religion has the details straight.

And a strong belief that "formal/institionalized religion" has played and will continue to play a huge role in the shaping of our world, and therefore we all need to make sure our voices are heard so that we can lop off the unfortuante excesses that have occured in the name of religion and capitalize on the good that comes of it.


If that makes any sense, at all.

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Euripides
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It does. [Smile]
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Tatiana
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JennaDean, that's pretty much the one I did, though I didn't read that passage until later. [Big Grin]

I noticed that many of the people I most admired were religious. I realized I didn't know much about being alive, about how to live. I finally finally started paying attention to the people I admired when they told me where all the love, happiness, patience, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and goodness they seemed to have all the time came from. And I tried the experiment of asking with a sincere and repentant heart for guidance. In fact, I prayed with all the energy of my soul, and I got an answer. For every step I took toward God, he took two steps toward me. So what started as hesitant and embarrassed, as feeling foolish because I didn't believe in what I was doing, gradually became more and more sure. Now God's presence in my life is a steady burn, a constant source of light and direction, a help in every need. I asked and was answered, and still am answered over and over again, day after day. Now it's like gravity. It's something I feel constantly. I know it's true because seeing is believing. I'm a doubting Thomas type, but even Thomas believed after he put his hands in the wounds. I had to do the same thing, but now that I did, I believe in God the way I believe in gravity.

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Belle
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quote:
Now God's presence in my life is a steady burn, a constant source of light and direction, a help in every need. I asked and was answered, and still am answered over and over again, day after day. Now it's like gravity. It's something I feel constantly. I know it's true because seeing is believing. I'm a doubting Thomas type, but even Thomas believed after he put his hands in the wounds. I had to do the same thing, but now that I did, I believe in God the way I believe in gravity.
That's beautiful. [Smile]
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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by Shawshank:
A 1.2 earlier in my life probably 6-7.

I'm having trouble parsing this statement. Are you saying that you're currently a 1.2, or currently 6-7.
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