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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

For those who do not believe in the devil, don’t they make the statement by Charles Baudelaire plausible?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) December 21st, 2014

Charles Baudelaire said “The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist”, if one doesn’t believe in Satan is it plausible they have fallen hard for the ”finest trick”. How could by scientifically debunk that to a certainty, just as if life were in the Matrix and you had no way to detect or escape it, how would you know you were trapped by it?

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27 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

You’re making a rather huge leap in logic. You’re suggesting, in an indirect way, that my denying that the devil exists does in some way prove that the devil exists. I’m not sure what the correct word is for that sort of back-asswards logic, but it’s flawed.

It also goes a different direction Couldn’t you say the same about god? The finest trick of God is to persuade you that he does exist.” It’s the reverse of what you posit – that the proof that god does not exist is the fact that he is so open and load about existing? Which in turn, suggests that god is smoke and mirrors and doth protest too much for some entity which is theoretically all powerful.

TO me the bottom line is that Baudelaire was blowing smoke, HE wasn’t known as a theologian or a philosopher – he was a poet and an essayist.

So I would pretty much ignore his illogical statements.

gailcalled's avatar

Baudelaire was often sidetracked by indolence, emotional distress and illness, and was also a long-term user of laudanum.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@elbanditoroso You’re suggesting, in an indirect way, that my denying that the devil exists does in some way prove that the devil exists.
I need not ponder if he exist or not, but that was not the question, the question is, if he fooled the ungodly how would they know it? If that makes him de facto real to unbelievers it is a byproduct of that reasoning.

It also goes a different direction Couldn’t you say the same about god?
That would be impossible, for a god is a hunk of stone, wood, etc. fashioned into some likeness by men, it has no life and is incapable of quashing an ant much less influencing anyone.

The finest trick of God is to persuade you that he does exist.” It’s the reverse of what you posit…]
Yes, it could be. Illogical as it is, for God desires for us to know Him. If there were someone fooling people that there was God, then there would be no God, because He would not really exist.

TO me the bottom line is that Baudelaire was blowing smoke, HE wasn’t known as a theologian or a philosopher – he was a poet and an essayist.
Why would I expect as much? Attack the messenger or flip the question when the main premise cannot be debunk with 100% certainly. Am I taking it you are saying there is no way in hell (all pun intended) you are in no way, absolutely And unequivocally not being played by the Devil as to if he exist or not? If so, I am asking you to prove how you know? If it is straight about science, you should be able to come up with a formula, an algorithm or something I could investigate. If I can somehow convince a whole village gravity did not exist, they would not go floating off into space, gravity would still work even if one chooses not to believe in it.

LostInParadise's avatar

You answered your own question., Do you believe that we are all living in the Matrix?

The longer answer makes use of Occam’s Razor, which says that you should use the simpler of two explanations. We have one explanation that many people would not believe in Satan if Satan did not exist and another that says that many people would not believe in Satan if he did exist. If this is to be the only criterion for determining whether or not Satan exists, we go with the simpler of the two explanations, which does not require Satan’s existence.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@LostInParadise You answered your own question., Do you believe that we are all living in the Matrix?
I do not believe we are living in the Matrix or anything like it. My experience that lead me to believe we are not is not something most would except, especially if they cannot measure, weigh, smell, feel or hear it.

LostInParadise's avatar

The exact same explanation would apply to Satan.

osoraro's avatar

I’m not persuaded Satan does not exist. I assume Satan does not exist based upon lack of evidence. Just as I assume the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, or God do not exist. No evidence.

ragingloli's avatar

The finest trick of the church was to persuade you that Satan (HAIL!) is god’s enemy, and not just one of his henchmen.

CWOTUS's avatar

If all of creation is ruled by an omnipotent and omniscient Supreme Being, then the fact that atheists and others do not believe in It (or in Satan) is:
a) already known by the Supreme Being and
b) according to the plan.

Since I’m an atheist, it makes perfect sense for me to say: That’s the way God planned it; that’s the way God wants me to be.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@CWOTUS – and to finish your thought – if the possible supreme being knows of your atheism and you are still here, then clearly God is comfortable with it. So everyone else can back off.

Berserker's avatar

Did Beaudelaire have any authority on The Bible? As I understand it, if you’re a Christian The Bible is the Word of God, and anything or anyone claiming that something else is, is a giant, no good sinner.

But to answer this, no it doesen’t seem plausible. I might as well say that Methos is a 1600 years old immortal running around with a sword, and he convinces people he’s not real by being a myth as much as possible. No matter what people say doesen’t make anything plausible, and plausibility does require a tad bit of actual material you can work with.

Darth_Algar's avatar

This is bad even by TC’s usual poor logic standards.

Berserker's avatar

Can even one question this guy posts go by without insults being flung at him?

gailcalled's avatar

Weird word choices and lack of clarity is descriptive.

flutherother's avatar

You can’t exclude the possibility of the devil’s existence through reasoning or logic. Disbelief in the devil is a matter of faith.

osoraro's avatar

@flutherother I disagree. Disbelief is not a matter of faith. Belief is a matter of faith. See my post above.

flutherother's avatar

@osoraro I had read your post but lack of evidence isn’t proof that something doesn’t exist especially if that something is deliberately hiding from you.

osoraro's avatar

I didn’t say that lack of evidence is proof that something doesn’t exist. I said that I assume something doesn’t exist until it is proven to exist, or at least until there is a reasonable hypothetical framework that shows that it may exist.

kritiper's avatar

It is a spin-off of Pascal’s wager. That it would be better for one to believe than not. Just more pro-religious mongering banter. For one to be trapped by it is by believing that one is trapped without proof that any trap exists.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@CWOTUS Since I’m an atheist, it makes perfect sense for me to say: That’s the way God planned it; that’s the way God wants me to be.
Wha-wha-what!? That is so preposterous; I do not even know what to say about it.

@elbanditoroso [… and to finish your thought – if the possible supreme being knows of your atheism and you are still here, then clearly God is comfortable with it.
That’s equally preposterous. Sorry.

@osoraro I said that I assume something doesn’t exist until it is proven to exist, or at least until there is a reasonable hypothetical framework that shows that it may exist.
So…if a given set of conditions, facts or not, appear to satisfy what you want to believe, you are incline to believe it even if indeed it is totally inaccurate?

@Symbeline Can even one question this guy posts go by without insults being flung at him?
We have been to this rodeo more times than one can shake a stick at it, if one cannot truly combat the question, discredit the messenger or attack the grammar; anything but actually take on the question from a logical open standpoint.

osoraro's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central No. What I want to believe is irrelevant. Things are either true or not true regardless of my beliefs. My brain is fallible and it can trick me—that’s how magicians make their money. But just because the magician makes the card appear in a block of ice means that it’s magic.

Same thing for Satan or God or whatever. Belief in the absence of evidence requires faith. And, unlike many people on this forum, I have respect for people who have faith. I just don’t share it. I try to have as little faith as possible, and I actively try to scrub myself of any faith whatsoever.

Show me good evidence, and I’ll be right there with you. Without it, sorry, buddy.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@osoraro But just because the magician makes the card appear in a block of ice means that it’s magic.
Right, I would deduct many things in science are just that, only the ”magic” is not directed by a skillful artisan. A telescope is directed out towards a heavenly body, and certain things are observed, however, something between here and there that is undetectable because the method to detect it is has not been discovered, tainting what you think you see into believing it is something you believe you see, but in fact is a card in a block of ice or a woman disappearing from a locked booth with a curtain. You may try fervently to cleave yourself of faith in any entity that is spiritual or even supernatural, but I would suspect your attitude in faith that other fallible men came up with you will glom onto, but we have freedom to do just that.

osoraro's avatar

Uh…no, not even close.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Charles Baudelaire said, ‘The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.’ If one doesn’t believe in Satan, is it plausible they have fallen hard for the ‘finest trick’?”

No. Non-belief is certainly consistent with being tricked, but it doesn’t give any independent plausibility to the existence of a Satan who has tricked those who do not believe in him. Consider a parallel case: it is consistent with your current experience that there is an invisible, incorporeal goblin hovering above your head at all times. But the fact that this is consistent with your experience doesn’t give us any independent reason to believe that it is, in fact, true.

“How could we scientifically debunk that to a certainty, just as if life were in the Matrix and you had no way to detect or escape it, how would you know you were trapped by it?”

I suspect that we can’t debunk it to a certainty. But science isn’t about certainty and never has been. It’s about evidence and the best explanations of that evidence. Indeed, most epistemologists think that certainty is impossible. Humans are imperfect, and so we are stuck with fallibilism as our best option. Fortunately, fallibilism is not incompatible with seeking or having knowledge. It just requires us to be open to new evidence lest it change what the best available theory of the world happens to be.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SavoirFaire First off, I appreciate your comment. You at least offer some logical debate with some example behind it rather than just alluding to it is not real.

I suspect that we can’t debunk it to a certainty. But science isn’t about certainty and never has been.
Yet so many would fight to the death of its certainty. What I would say to that is:
A. Why would anyone want to place such regard to something proven or believed to be fallible?
B. Given that fact, why is there no allowance in test to address the fact that the answers are best guesses on the most part, and not absolutes you must apply to the question?

You at least had the boldness to say that it cannot be scientifically ruled out, many of your fellow Flutheronians almost seem petrified with fear to even fathom that thought.

It’s about evidence and the best explanations of that evidence.
The evidence doesn’t always point to the actual truth, a lot of it is how it is deciphered by the gatherer, just as you can’t be 100% certain just because you hear a gunshot down the alley and take a peek to see a man with a smoking gun in his hand, that he shot the person fallen on the ground. Just because it is the easiest think to extrapolate from the visual and audible facts, there is room for error, I would say those who want to hang their hat on science take note of that.

LostInParadise's avatar

I just came across this article and it reminded me of this post. Maybe we really are living in the Matrix and the idea is testable. Before dismissing the Matrix theory, consider that it would be consistent with your ideas about Intelligent Design. God might be a computer programmer (there’s a scary thought). Satan could of course be programmed into the simulation. We might not be running in the original simulation, whether or not it was created by God, but instead a simulation created by beings in the original simulation or a simulation created by that simulation or… Now my head is starting to hurt and I will have to stop.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“A. Why would anyone want to place such regard to something proven or believed to be fallible?”

The main reason is because it is still incredibly reliable—more reliable, indeed, than anything else we have. Being fallible doesn’t mean there’s a 50/50 shot that any particular theory is false. There can be degrees of assurance, and many scientific theories are extremely well confirmed and have not required any significant revisions. But we are aware that we don’t know everything, so the prudent scientist keeps open the possibility that future evidence will require us to change what are now our best theories. So even the best confirmed theories are only said to be 99.99% trustworthy. In this way, fallibilism is as much an attitude as it is an epistemological stance.


“B. Given that fact, why is there no allowance in test to address the fact that the answers are best guesses on the most part, and not absolutes you must apply to the question?”

Scientific theories are a bit more than “best guesses,” at least insofar as “guess” seems to imply that our theories are a lot less reliable than they really are. But scientists do retest theories quite frequently to see if they still hold up. That’s why replication (doing the same test many times, but also doing different tests to see if the theory predicts the correct results) is a central element of the scientific method. If your objection is to the conviction with which many people assert that scientific theories are true, I suppose I can see your point. Fallibilism is actually one of science’s greatest strengths (it is allowed to change when the evidence changes). As such, it is a little odd to downplay it.

On the other hand, a theory that has proven to be reliable and has been confirmed over and over again is worth believing, and refusing to believe in it due to the mere possibility that it might not be 100% accurate is unreasonable. Therefore, it is understandable why someone might be willing to just assert the truth of our best confirmed theories. It is also understandable why some get frustrated when politically controversial theories—which are among the best confirmed precisely because the controversy leads so many people to test it and retest it—are rejected for reasons that amount to scientific illiteracy.

“The evidence doesn’t always point to the actual truth [...] I would say those who want to hang their hat on science take note of that.”

Sure. This is particularly true early on in a scientific investigation. But again, that’s why gathering data and repeating experiments is so important. Here is an image that I think explains the progression quite well. As we gather more and more evidence, the likelihood that we are mistaken decreases significantly. The obvious sources of error are eliminated, and our theory gets closer and closer to representing the truth. It may never be perfect, but it may be at least close enough to rule out certain competing claims. And it is often confirmed well enough to make basing decisions on it the rational thing to do (and to make ignoring it when making decisions an irrational thing to do).

So while I completely agree that there are plenty of scientific-minded people who need to be better at remembering the fallibility of science, I also think that there are a lot of people who blow that fallibility way out of proportion. While our scientific theories may never be known with absolute certainty, the scientific method does give us theories we can be reasonably confident in and that are worth basing our decisions on. What has been discovered by science is worth calling “knowledge,” or at least the closest we can come to it.

I don’t think that science is unique in being able to give us knowledge, but I do think that its methods are one way of getting knowledge.

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