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Author Topic: Federal judge shows fearless good sense
King of Men
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quote:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.

quote:
From what I understand (I'm not the scientist though) if the universe was smaller, nuclear fusion would have not have been able to take place during the first three minutes of the existance of the universe. If this did not take place the universe would have consisted entirely of helium, rendering the formation of rocky planets impossible.
Hydrogen, not helium; but in any case, wrong. An expanding universe must inevitably pass through a temperature at which nuclear fusion occurs. Whether this is from the first to the third minute or from the second to the fourth is not very relevant.

quote:
The universe contains 10 (to the 80) baryons. An addition of just 10 (to the 21 power) baryons (at 1.6710 (to the −27 power) kg/baryon equals 1.7 mg of matter. If we were to add this now it would not make a difference, but if added at the beginning of the universe, it would have created a deviation in which life could not exist. The universe would consist of black holes, unable to support life.
Sez you.

You made both these assertions before, and I told you that you were mistaken. When you simply re-iterate them, what are you adding to the discussion? At an absolute minimum, you should say where you are getting these interesting factoids.

quote:
I would argue that while religion does not answer the question regarding the size of the universe in a scientific sense, the sheer impossibility of the universe turning out how it did lends credit to the religious argument that the universe was created by design.
You, yourself, exist because a particular sperm and egg united. The probability of this, clearly, is one in several million. Your father has a similar probability of existing, and so on. Shall I conclude that you were therefore designed?
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Sean Monahan
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?

What is the cause of the radioactive decay of an atom?
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Sean Monahan:
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?

What is the cause of the radioactive decay of an atom?
Several million attempts at quantum-tunnelling through the barrier, each with a tiny chance of success.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.
Not necessarily. The Universe hasn't always existed, it has a beginning and a finite age. Depending of course on the particular religion, God has no beginning. God has always existed. Now I will admit that this has problems of its own but it is certainly not irrational to object to something starting without cause but have no objection to something existing with no beginning (and therefore no requirement for a cause).
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.

quote:
From what I understand (I'm not the scientist though) if the universe was smaller, nuclear fusion would have not have been able to take place during the first three minutes of the existance of the universe. If this did not take place the universe would have consisted entirely of helium, rendering the formation of rocky planets impossible.
Hydrogen, not helium; but in any case, wrong. An expanding universe must inevitably pass through a temperature at which nuclear fusion occurs. Whether this is from the first to the third minute or from the second to the fourth is not very relevant.

quote:
The universe contains 10 (to the 80) baryons. An addition of just 10 (to the 21 power) baryons (at 1.6710 (to the −27 power) kg/baryon equals 1.7 mg of matter. If we were to add this now it would not make a difference, but if added at the beginning of the universe, it would have created a deviation in which life could not exist. The universe would consist of black holes, unable to support life.
Sez you.

You made both these assertions before, and I told you that you were mistaken. When you simply re-iterate them, what are you adding to the discussion? At an absolute minimum, you should say where you are getting these interesting factoids.

quote:
I would argue that while religion does not answer the question regarding the size of the universe in a scientific sense, the sheer impossibility of the universe turning out how it did lends credit to the religious argument that the universe was created by design.
You, yourself, exist because a particular sperm and egg united. The probability of this, clearly, is one in several million. Your father has a similar probability of existing, and so on. Shall I conclude that you were therefore designed?

But I do object to an uncaused God. The religion I belong to teaches that God was once a being very much like us, but that has progressed to the point he is now. Likewise we will one day be able to become like him.

Can man truly comprehend something without end? Something without beginning?

And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.

But please answer the question I asked in my previous post.

What do you think of the cosmological constant?

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MightyCow
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Your existence is orders of magnitude less likely than the universe if you take into consideration that the universe much first have existed as a condition of your existence.

Besides, where do you get your numbers for the likelihood of the universe coming into existence?

For all we know, in whatever conditions existed before the universe (if such a thing can even be contemplated - what existed before existence) universes might just pop into existence all the time. Maybe that's just what universes DO, and it would be incredibly unlikely that a universe ready for life would NOT exist.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
religion I belong to teaches that God was once a being very much like us, but that has progressed to the point he is now.
Who created Him, then, and where did He live before He made the universe?
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.

Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up anwers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.

It's not honest to compare two numerical values to each other when you have absolutely no idea what those values are! It's also not very bright to do so transparently.

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Tresopax
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quote:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.
This can't be true. Any possible universe with you in it must also have life in it, but some possible universes with life in it would not have you. Therefore, even if we can't calculate what those odds are, the odds of a universe having life must be greter than the odds of a universe having you in it.

quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up anwers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
This also isn't true - if theists simply made up their answers based on nothing but their own wishes, theists would have a much easier time coming up with answers, and it wouldn't require so much work to live in accordance with those answers.
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kmbboots
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And thank you for demonstrating how some athesists lump all theists together and aim for the low hanging fruit.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
[QB]
quote:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.
This can't be true. Any possible universe with you in it must also have life in it, but some possible universes with life in it would not have you. Therefore, even if we can't calculate what those odds are, the odds of a universe having life must be greter than the odds of a universe having you in it.
You misunderstand the argument. Geraine claimed that the odds of Geraine being in the universe were a "sure thing" compared to the universe existing. That's like saying that while the odds of getting a bridge hand with no voids is quite likely, the odds of playing bridge are tiny in comparison. The odds of the former are pretty easily calculable. But if you know absolutely nothing about the odds of me and my 3 friends starting a bridge game, you can't possibly compare the two. At least, not honestly, if you have an intellectual integrity at least as developed as a third-grader.

quote:
quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up anwers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
This also isn't true - if theists simply made up their answers based on nothing but their own wishes, theists would have a much easier time coming up with answers,
Geraine doesn't seem to have a hard time coming up with claims about "spirtual mass", does s/he? Where are those answers coming from, if not religion?

And really, compared to KOM and Geraine, which of the two do you think has spent more time looking at the hard data about the nature and origin of the universe? I think that KOM has put a lot more reading and research into the answers he's claimed that Geraine has put into his.

It's certainly easier to not read papers than it is to read them.

quote:
and it wouldn't require so much work to live in accordance with those answers.
Yeah, it's soooo much work to make things up about "spirtual mass". And to outright declare that something is "sheerly impossible" without lifting a finger to calculate anything.
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King of Men
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What you consider 'low hanging', I consider 'salvageable'. The likes of you and Tresopax, alas, have long since rotted. In any case, what is your objection to going for the easiest minds to save? Is it that you want to be convinced you are wrong, and are miffed when we do not engage your formless void? If so, congratulations, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. But I suspect you cannot say any such thing out loud.

quote:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them.
How do you know?

quote:
What do you think of the cosmological constant?
I don't understand the question.

quote:
But I do object to an uncaused God.
Very well, this is at least consistent. Moving then from the philosophical to the practical, what is your evidence in favour of your caused god? The uncaused Universe (or at any rate, the Universe with an apparent beginning beyond which it is very difficult to say anything about causes) has some evidence in its favour; it is not made up from the autumn sunshine. Where is yours?
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King of Men
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quote:
And really, comparing KOM and Geraine, which of the two do you think has spent more time looking at the hard data about the nature and origin of the universe? I think that KOM has put a lot more reading and research into the answers he's claimed than Geraine has put into his.
I do not wish to make unfounded arguments from authority, even by proxy, so let me note in the interest of honesty that cosmology is not my field; particle physics is. (Although they do overlap to some extent, of course.) My knowledge of cosmology is that of an interested layman with eclectic reading habits.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
And thank you for demonstrating how some athesists lump all theists together and aim for the low hanging fruit.

I don't understand why this is off limits.
If really stupid arguments are being presented, and aren't out of the mainstream at all, why is it unfair to engage them?

This is like saying that any Catholic discussion of reforming the priesthood can't even touch on hierarchical secrecy, because that's just shooting fish in a barrel.

A worldview based on reason and evidence has a built-in gatekeeper to weed out arguements that are illegitimate; reason and evidence. So shooting down wildly irrational strawmen doesn't touch a reason and evidence-based worldview, because such arguements can't possibly be a part of such a worldview.

Religion has no such gatekeepers, unless you are going to go the egotistical route, and claim that you and yours are the gatekeepers to valid religious arguments. The low hanging fruit are still on your tree. And they aren't illegitimate arguments for the theistic worldview just becuase you don't share them, or because they yield consequences that you find abhorant.

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kmbboots
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But it's boring.
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scifibum
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Maybe just change this:

quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up answers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
To this:

quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how some theists make up answers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
...after all, some theists may be careful not to make things up themselves, and just believe what trusted authorities have taught them. Others have invested a lot of study and prayer to determine what is true, and believe that their conclusions tend to oppose many of their own selfish wishes.

The charge of laziness plus wish fulfillment isn't universally applicable, IMO. You can (I do) believe they are wrong without categorically dismissing theists with this charge.

Geraine: you are definitely failing to understand the anthropic principle, though. What the anthropic principle tells us is that conditions friendly to our existence have absolutely no bearing on the likelihood of the possible reasons for those conditions. I had a hard time with it myself. It's true, though. The argument you are making goes nowhere.

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King of Men
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Well, kmb, any discussion between the two of us eventually comes down to you saying that it's not about evidence, and me saying that it damn well is. It would bore me to tears except for being so frustrating that it frustrates me to tears instead. If you dislike discussion of evidence, that's your problem - indeed, that apparently is your problem - and none of mine, or anyone else's.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
...after all, some theists may be careful not to make things up themselves, and just believe what trusted authorities have taught them.

I consider adults responsible for the goodness of their chosen authorities. If you know that your authority has no evidence, than it's not any better to trust him or her than to trust your own evidence-free personal judgement.

So I absolve Kara Neuman, and childre like her, from my generalization. Her parents have spared her from the trial of evaluating her authorities.

quote:
Others have invested a lot of study and prayer to determine what is true,
That's not going to work. You can't detect truth without a robust method for distinguishing false. Prayer doesn't do that. The long history of people praying, and still coming to greviously wrong conclusions demonstrates that pretty well.

And there's also the non-existant history of people praying to come up with, say, chemical structures of molecules that truly treat malaria.

quote:
and believe that their conclusions tend to oppose many of their own selfish wishes.
Sometimes. But I think most people who pray on things end up doing what they were going to do anyway, they are just more sure of it being right. Remember, they are only consulting their own heads. But yeah, I'm sure that somewhere, there was an inquisitor torturer whose prayer told him that he should not play hooky that day, but do his sacred duty of saving souls by ripping out fingernails.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
But it's boring.

Yes, dealing with other people's irrationalities can be tiresome.

But maybe if, say, the Neuman's religious circle had been explicit to themselves and to each other about how unsubstantiated their faith was, and what the certain consequences of their choices were going to be, someone would have decided that it was unacceptable, and acted in time. Someone might have said "there's no good evidence either way about whether God wants Kara to live or die. That means we should do what we want, there being no detectable moral downside to saving her".

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King of Men
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quote:
Sometimes. But I think most people who pray on things end up doing what they were going to do anyway, they are just more sure of it being right. Remember, they are only consulting their own heads. But yeah, I'm sure that somewhere, there was an inquisitor torturer whose prayer told him that he should not play hooky that day, but do his sacred duty of saving souls by ripping out fingernails.
As a matter of interest, this was explicit church doctrine at one point. The Inquisitors recognised the possibility of error on their part; they reasoned, very naturally, that if they were inflicting pain on the basis of a false doctrine, they would inevitably go to Hell... and having gone so far towards rationality, made the about-face: Therefore, the Inquisitor is not merely doing an unpleasant but necessary task, he is putting his very soul at risk in the service of what he believes right and for the salvation of his victims! Heroism in the tightening of every screw!
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Raymond Arnold
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What's sad is that actually makes sense.
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Orincoro
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swb- on the prayer thing, I think I've read more than once that one theory about prayer is that it is essentially a process by which people try to rectify their desires with their actions... so maybe people don't always do *exactly* what they were going to do before praying, they certainly do what they *wanted* to do before praying. It takes a very small amount of critical self-reflection and sometimes a very little bit of therapy to realize that the things you do, even the things you don't plan to do, have a great deal to do with what you *want* to do.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
What's sad is that actually makes sense.

Indeed, as a general rule the better sort of Catholic is not too dreadful at drawing logical inferences from a set of given premises. Treating theology purely as a game of logic, like mathematics with axioms not intended to describe the real world but just for fun, the Catholic tradition is probably the best available. It's just such a pity that the axioms they reason from are so completely out of whack, not to mention having a Shannon information requirement that you don't get from most mathematical systems.
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Tresopax
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quote:
That's not going to work. You can't detect truth without a robust method for distinguishing false. Prayer doesn't do that. The long history of people praying, and still coming to greviously wrong conclusions demonstrates that pretty well.
There is also a long history of people attempting to use reason and evidence, but still coming to greviously wrong conclusions.

Again, I have asked several times if there is any particular non-anecdotal empirical evidence that using solely reason and self-examined evidence of the scientific sort will result in more accurate beliefs than trusting authorities...

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MightyCow
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Tres: The kind of evidence you are looking fore would have to be reasoned, rather than appealed to authority, so the fact that you realize that it would require substantiation to be credible proves the point.

Edit: Alternately, I can claim that an authority says that such evidence exists, so I "prove" that it does either way [Smile]

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King of Men
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Er... you are posting this on a computer connected to the Internets, no? Let's see you come up with that infrastructure by reference to authority.
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PSI Teleport
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quote:
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.
It's been two days since this comment was posted, but as it wasn't argued in a manner satisfactory to me I decided to give my opinion on the matter.

It's entirely consistent to believe in both a caused universe and an uncaused god when you believe in a god that created time flow and causality.

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fugu13
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PSI: the inconsistency is in insisting the universe necessitates God to cause it (edit: or, in milder form, in rejecting as illogical those who say there is no cause for the universe).
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PSI Teleport
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Ah, okay. I agree with your edit more than the original statement.

edit: Although I was the one that used the term consistent. KoM's quote seems to have a different meaning than your clarification.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:

It's entirely consistent to believe in both a caused universe and an uncaused god when you believe in a god that created time flow and causality.

Point was it was inconsistent to reject an uncaused universe and to remedy that by adding an uncaused God. The important inconsistency is the rejection of the uncaused universe on the grounds that it is illogical, but not rejecting the idea of a god on the same grounds.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
That's not going to work. You can't detect truth without a robust method for distinguishing false. Prayer doesn't do that. The long history of people praying, and still coming to greviously wrong conclusions demonstrates that pretty well.
There is also a long history of people attempting to use reason and evidence, but still coming to greviously wrong conclusions.
Yes, but it happens a whole lot less often.

I'll ask you the same question that you keep refusing to answer; if your loved one were extremely ill, and one person, a doctor, proposed to treat them using the best recommendations reason and evidence gave, and the other person, an authority on faith healing, proposed to use only the prayer that their personal judgment told them was required, which would you prefer were used?

quote:
Again, I have asked several times if there is any particular non-anecdotal empirical evidence that using solely reason and self-examined evidence of the scientific sort will result in more accurate beliefs than trusting authorities...
You can't be this stupid. The success of modern medicine, based on evidence and reason, over what came before, which was in large part nothing but religious and magic superstition, is not merely anecdotal.

In my example above, the first doctor is a medical authority, and the second guy is a religious authority. Are you going to argue that it won't make a practical difference which authority is listened to in this instance? That any "authority" is as good as another? Would you honestly be alright in flipping a coin to determine how your bleeding and dying family member was to be treated? Or would you trust the authority who possessed the medical evidence and reasoning?

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Tresopax
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quote:
Er... you are posting this on a computer connected to the Internets, no? Let's see you come up with that infrastructure by reference to authority.
I'd think the infratructure of the Internet could only be created with numerous appeals to authority. For instance, the people who constructed my computer and the components within it most likely were not scientists who have examined the evidence proving all the physics upon which computers rely. Instead, they were likely just workers who were told or were trained by other authorities to know how to build a computer. They trust the directions given to them by those authorities.

Similarly, if you came up with a complete set of directions and blueprints for a computer network, simply trusting those directions would be enough to create it. You wouldn't have to go out and research whether or not it would work yourself. So yes, I think it would be possible to build a large computer network simply by trusting authorities, if you find the right authorities to trust.

quote:
I'll ask you the same question that you keep refusing to answer; if your loved one were extremely ill, and one person, a doctor, proposed to treat them using the best recommendations reason and evidence gave, and the other person, an authority on faith healing, proposed to use only the prayer that their personal judgment told them was required, which would you prefer were used?
I'd trust the authority of the doctor; I believe in medicine and not faith healing.

quote:
In my example above, the first doctor is a medical authority, and the second guy is a religious authority. Are you going to argue that it won't make a practical difference which authority is listened to in this instance? That any "authority" is as good as another? Would you honestly be alright in flipping a coin to determine how your bleeding and dying family member was to be treated? Or would you trust the authority who possessed the medical evidence and reasoning?
It makes a difference which authority is trusted! But the key is... I'm better off trusting one authority than refusing to trust any authority at all. If I refuse the doctor's advice because he can't present empirical evidence to me on the spot that proves his medical advice will work, then I suspect my loved one is more likely to die than if I trust whatever my doctor says.

[ May 09, 2010, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]

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PSI Teleport
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:

It's entirely consistent to believe in both a caused universe and an uncaused god when you believe in a god that created time flow and causality.

Point was it was inconsistent to reject an uncaused universe and to remedy that by adding an uncaused God. The important inconsistency is the rejection of the uncaused universe on the grounds that it is illogical, but not rejecting the idea of a god on the same grounds.
Right, I understand that. I don't necessarily agree. In the material world, effects have causes. But it isn't productive to try and limit God to the same rules. As I said before, it's not difficult to imagine a god that exists outside of time, outside of cause-effect relationships, and who, in fact, is the source of those things.
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King of Men
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If you can have an uncaused god, you can just as well have an uncaused universe. To say "the god obeys different rules" changes nothing; so might the universe. The whole need not follow the same law that the parts do; we have observed cause and effect only in a tiny bit of the universe, and have never experimented with those rules on the whole thing.
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scifibum
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quote:
As I said before, it's not difficult to imagine a god that exists outside of time, outside of cause-effect relationships, and who, in fact, is the source of those things.
Not difficult to propose the possibility as you've done here. It would be extremely difficult to imagine how an entity could exist in any meaningful way "outside" of cause and effect. It's not really an answer to anything, but a (sometimes handy) excuse for the lack of answers.
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fugu13
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PSI: I think you think we understand a lot more about cause and effect than we think we do. Furthermore, having a metaphysical being made out of handwavium is no more logical than having a universe started out of handwavium. Thinking there is a difference is the inconsistency.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
But it isn't productive to try and limit God to the same rules. As I said before, it's not difficult to imagine a god that exists outside of time, outside of cause-effect relationships, and who, in fact, is the source of those things.

It isn't productive, certainly, if one needs to believe in God, and needs one's own reason to be bent to fit that conclusion.

But we're talking about the most basic logical inconsistency there could be- if you cannot accept the universe as uncaused, then you cannot accept God as uncaused. If you do, well, then, you aren't following logical reasoning, you are changing the terms to give you the conclusion you need. There's a reason why the Flying Spaghetti Monster works just as well in place of god, and that's because god fits anywhere god is needed. Thus the inconsistency.

I'm wondering how you disagree that it is inconsistent to apply two different rule sets to the universe and to god, especially when you believe that one caused the other. That necessitates them coming under the same rule set. If you believe there is no rule set for god, then I do wonder how you define what a god is. With no set of rules and strictures, there might as well be no god, and just a total lack of rules governing random events. In that scenario, a universe caused by god and an uncaused universe would have the same features- if there are no rules for god, there is no god- because then god is not an organized concept, just a cause with no cause of its own. See where I'm going with this?

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Paul Goldner
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quote:
The Universe hasn't always existed, it has a beginning and a finite age
A finite age, yes. "Beginning," and "Always," are problematic.
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MattP
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quote:
The Universe hasn't always existed, it has a beginning
Well yes, but in a way that nothing else we have ever experienced has a beginning. The beginning of the universe represents the beginning of the existence of matter and energy. That cannot be adequately analogized to the beginning of anything else in the univserse.

When we say a car begins to exist, for instance, all we're really saying is that we've munged together a bunch of existing matter into the shape of a car. The car didn't appear ex nihilo. Nothing has actually begun to exist in the way that we understand the universe to have begun to exist.

Because of this the beginning of the universe is a completely novel event. Our time/space-constrained brains may want to apply intuitive concepts of causation, "before", "outside", etc., but these concepts don't apply to that realm. The event horizon of the big bang is completely opaque and we know absolutely nothing about creation beyond what we've been able to extrapolate back to the Planck epoch, give or take 10^-44 seconds. No amount of philosophizing can tell us more.

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Destineer
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quote:
A finite age, yes. "Beginning," and "Always," are problematic.
Exactly. It would be false to say that there was ever a point in time when the universe didn't exist. Nor is there any possible universe in general relativity like ours but with more time tacked on before the Big Bang. (This last bit is true because cosmological spacetimes are inextendable.)
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King of Men
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Now, I'm not skilled at general relativity, but it seems to me that "there is no universe like ours but with more time before the Big Bang" and "cosmological spacetimes are inextendable" are basically the same statement, but one is more technical. To say that one is due to the other, then, is not to add any information; it merely expresses the tautology, A equals A. Unless you are prepared to show the proof (as a side note, since GR is effectively mathematics, there can indeed be a 'proof' and not merely 'evidence'), the technical language is just an appeal to authority.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
So yes, I think it would be possible to build a large computer network simply by trusting authorities, if you find the right authorities to trust.

For the umpeenth time, how do you decide which authorities to trust if not by their knowledge of the evidence?

quote:
quote:
I'll ask you the same question that you keep refusing to answer; if your loved one were extremely ill, and one person, a doctor, proposed to treat them using the best recommendations reason and evidence gave, and the other person, an authority on faith healing, proposed to use only the prayer that their personal judgment told them was required, which would you prefer were used?
I'd trust the authority of the doctor; I believe in medicine and not faith healing.
How did you decide that? Did you flip a coin?

quote:
quote:
In my example above, the first doctor is a medical authority, and the second guy is a religious authority. Are you going to argue that it won't make a practical difference which authority is listened to in this instance? That any "authority" is as good as another? Would you honestly be alright in flipping a coin to determine how your bleeding and dying family member was to be treated? Or would you trust the authority who possessed the medical evidence and reasoning?
It makes a difference which authority is trusted! But the key is... I'm better off trusting one authority than refusing to trust any authority at all.
Really? Let's say that your spouse is bleeding very badly. You personally have witnessed mice and rats or chickens die from blood loss.

You are seriosuly arguing that it would be better for you to watch your spouse bleed to death while your religious authority does nothing but pray, than for you to apply your knowledge about bleeding to death, in order to stanch the wound?

Remember the Monty hall problem? I must conclude from your arguments that you think yourself personally incapable of collecting or understanding evidence from a simple 3 card simulation of the problem carried out with a friend, but I assure you, this simulation is well within the powers of most third-graders. So you are seriously arguing that a 3rd grader who carries out an accurate simulation of the problem is more likely to get it wrong than a 3rd grade who asks his chosen authority, his 5th grade brother? Or, to put it another way, if you think that the math professor is a better authority than the 5th grader, why do you conclude this? Did you flip a coin there too?

Maybe that is what this all comes down to for you. Maybe you have no confidence in your ability to understand the world around you, or you are too lazy to try, so you live in a permenant state of CYA by insisting that all your conclusions are drawn by authorities. That way, you aren't responsible for anything. You tried your best by asking someone else to tell you what to do. And if that someone else was obviously incapable of giving your good guidance, well, what should we expect, that you should try to figure out a few things for yourself?

quote:
If I refuse the doctor's advice because he can't present empirical evidence to me on the spot that proves his medical advice will work, then I suspect my loved one is more likely to die than if I trust whatever my doctor says.
Well, the faith healer can't produce evidence "on the spot" either. So what is your reason for dismissing the faith healer again? You flipped a coin once upon a time?
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Tresopax
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quote:
For the umpeenth time, how do you decide which authorities to trust if not by their knowledge of the evidence?
Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record, the degree to which other trusted authorities say I should trust them, and my beliefs about how they learned what they claim to know. For instance, I trust doctors because they've healed me in the past, because most people I trust say doctors are effective, and because they learned their discipline through what I believe to be an effective medical education.

I actually have no idea how much firsthand knowledge of evidence my doctors have had about some of the things they deal with, since they were doctors and not research scientists.

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Orincoro
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The chances of you presenting to an experienced diagnostician with a condition they have not seen before is very slight. People tend to forget that doctors spend years working 80 hour weeks seeing every imaginable condition and administering every imaginable treatment. Most of the practice of medicine is not very theoretical.
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Foust
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quote:
I actually have no idea how much firsthand knowledge of evidence my doctors have had about some of the things they deal with, since they were doctors and not research scientists.
This implied equivalency between scientific authority and theological authority is useless and sneaky.

If you believe a mistaken scientific authority, your plane falls out of the sky, or your test tube explodes, or your disease kills you.

If you believe a mistaken theological authority... what? Nothing happens.

Actually, that isn't even the main gulf. With a scientific authority, or even an authority from the social sciences, you are entirely welcome to walk through their work yourself, and in principle, should be able to verify every single last detail yourself.

With a theological authority, all you've got is their word.

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Tresopax
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quote:
The chances of you presenting to an experienced diagnostician with a condition they have not seen before is very slight. People tend to forget that doctors spend years working 80 hour weeks seeing every imaginable condition and administering every imaginable treatment. Most of the practice of medicine is not very theoretical.
Yes, I agree with that, regarding their personal experience. What I meant was I don't really know to what degree my doctors have looked closely at the controlled experimental data that often underlies medical advice.

quote:
If you believe a mistaken scientific authority, your plane falls out of the sky, or your test tube explodes, or your disease kills you.

If you believe a mistaken theological authority... what? Nothing happens.

Swbarnes2 gave the example earlier of the family whose child died because they trusted a theological authority. On the flip side, a doctor may prescribe X for my common cold, and then if the common cold goes away in four days I have no idea if X actually made it go away faster or if that was just the natural course of the cold I had.

quote:
With a scientific authority, or even an authority from the social sciences, you are entirely welcome to walk through their work yourself, and in principle, should be able to verify every single last detail yourself.

With a theological authority, all you've got is their word.

That's part of what makes a scientific authority scientific - although practically speaking, it would be nearly impossible for me to verify most scientific claims myself, without investing the time to train as a scientist myself and without investing significantly in equipment and experimentation.

But you are falsly breaking authority down into just two types here. Types of authority can range from a book being cited as a source for a paper, to an expert on taxes, to an elder member of your family who has had lots of experience in life, to a website, or even to internal mental functions (like memory) that you must trust. Some of these are rather easily double checked, some are difficult to double check, and some can't be checked at all. If you want to know what happened to your grandfather during his service in World War II, for instance, all you've got is his word. On the other hand, if you want to know why theological scholars believe the Bible should be interpretted a certain way, they can usually walk you through the passages that have led them to that conclusion, if you are willing to take the time.

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King of Men
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quote:
Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record
Ding, we're finished here. The track record is the experimental test. You don't rely on faith any more than I do.
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Tresopax
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If your religion has a very good track record of providing effective answers to problems in your life, would you consider that an experimental test?
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Orincoro
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KoM how many years have you been talking to him? It's like trying to catch the greased up deaf guy... he just wriggles away in the end, you'll never catch him.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
For the umpeenth time, how do you decide which authorities to trust if not by their knowledge of the evidence?
Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record, the degree to which other trusted authorities say I should trust them, and my beliefs about how they learned what they claim to know.
You can't be this stupid. When asked "How do you pick which authorities to trust?", you can't possibly think "I listen to my other trusted authorites" is a sensible answer. That doesn't answer the question of how you decide what to believe.

So you say you look at track record. Do you have any idea why doctors have a better track record at healing people than shamans? Do you have even a hint of a notion of why that might be? KOM and myself, and lots of other people can easily give perfectly sensible answers to why we think doctors are better at saving lives than shamens...even children can answer this question pretty easily. Can you?

Let me guess...an authority you already trusted told you that, and you couldn't be bother to think about why the world was that way.

quote:
For instance, I trust doctors because they've healed me in the past, because most people I trust say doctors are effective, and because they learned their discipline through what I believe to be an effective medical education.
What do you believe that medical education consists of, if not learning the what the evidence and reason says about how the body functions, and what treatments work at making it better?

quote:
I actually have no idea how much firsthand knowledge of evidence my doctors have had about some of the things they deal with, since they were doctors and not research scientists.
You seem to think that no one but people in lab coats can know evidence. I don't see how an adult can go through life believing this. You would have to be the most incurious and helpless person alive for you to not have first-hand knowledge of some subject.
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