General Question

dannyc's avatar

Is there any point in debating the existence of God?

Asked by dannyc (5223points) May 17th, 2009

I find that this question has a prearranged answer for debaters, none will convince the other ..thus an atheist or a born-again will find ways to justify their answers and seek to destroy venomously their perceived opponent. Science is used to defend/or attack ..so what’s the point of it all?

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124 Answers

Arabbtm's avatar

No point. No one can prove if there is god.

kenmc's avatar

People find it to be fun if you can consider that a reason to debate such frivolities.

Nefily's avatar

It all has to do with faith it is ok if you believe and it is ok if you do not. There is no point in debating on personal views. It is not something meant to be proved.

charliecompany34's avatar

God is, was and is and is which to come. if anybody can explain how to make a tree or our own living and breathing bodies, he or she should be God. who can explain that? when it comes to God, we cannot understand where He began because we as humans have an idea about beginnings and endings but we cannot see how things can start before “beginning.” that’s where God exists. He is before us and after us.

He cannot be debated because His existence is beyond our realm of existing.

DarkScribe's avatar

I doubt that there is any point although there can be a lot of fun. There is no proof and as most who believe are believing based on “faith” (read brainwashing) they won’t listen to argument no matter how persuasive. Most true believers seem to lack logic skills, as they fail to see much that is illogical in the Bible.

Darwin's avatar

If you think you know the answer for certain one way or the other, you like to argue, and you feel a need to convince others you are right, then sure, it would be worth it to you. However, for those who think they don’t know the answer, probably not.

justwannaknow's avatar

If you already know the answer then why did you even bother to ask?

Girl_Powered's avatar

Which god? Even the Christian bible says “thou shall worship no other god but me” so there have to be at least a few gods to choose between. Aside from Allah etc, what other gods to we have to pick from?

lillycoyote's avatar

As there is no definitive evidence, let alone proof, one way or the other I would say yes, there’s no point to debating it although it’s a fascinating subject. And in the end, I’m not sure it matters. There either is a God or there isn’t and what anyone believes or doesn’t believe regarding the existence of God won’t change the reality of whether or not there is one.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Girl_Powered You could pick some of the old Greek or Roman Gods or in my case, preferably Goddesses. If I have to get down on my knees to worship I’d like to look up at something interesting. Like a Goddess in a short skirt – that could be fun.

writetovinay's avatar

i think u should all watch the Athiesm Tapes..its a BBC production…
@dannyc: the tapes will answer all the qestions.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A point in debating the subject…? No. No point to it at all. Debate suggests a “winner” and a “looser”. Winners and Loosers are burdened with ego. Ego prevents Truth from being accepted, preferring instead to claim opinion as an absolute. That framework discourages meaningful discussion on the matter.

There is always a point to meaningful discussion.

futurelaker88's avatar

@Girl_Powered – it doesnt say “worship no other god but me” it says “HAVE no other god before me.” meaning, anything else in your life that becomes the center of your attention. (money, sex, porn, greed, etc) He is saying it is sinful to be consumed and consequently “worship” anything/anyone else above Himself. Another way of putting it would be “idols,” things that people give all of their time and concentration to. This is what the passage in scripture is referring to.

Girl_Powered's avatar

@futurelaker88 It says quite unmistakeably

Exodus 34:14 “For thou shalt worship no other God: for the LORD whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Good enough for me. If God needs other people to interpret his words, them maybe he should consider retiring. I hear that those retired God’s homes have all sorts of fun amenities.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Girl_Powered

Those other Gods have names:

Greed
Lust
Deception
Revenge
Gossip
Worry

Girl_Powered's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies If they had names then they would have been listed. If he meant don’t worship anything but me he would have said so, not don’t worship any god but me. Unless you are suggesting that god wasn’t too bright? The stuff you mention is covered quite clearly in other areas of the bible. Why would he get it right once, then not another time?

It is all nonsense anyway, there are no gods, no angels, no heaven and no hell. What there is we are standing in right now.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Girl_Powered

The Now is impossible. Now here is nowhere.

Girl_Powered's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Stoned already? What time is it there?

futurelaker88's avatar

@Girl_Powered – if a translation says that, its a poor translation. it’s as easy as that. it is possible to select a poor word while translating (even though it seems to fit in terms of matching the original language). The meaning is still the same however.

i just also want to add that the sarcasm is an extremely poor choice when it comes to a serious response. it shows immaturity and hatred…the very thing that the “intolerant” christians are supposedly incapable of staying away from

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – EXACTLY!! thanks a lot!! lol.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Girl_Powered
What makes you believe that I am stoned?

Girl_Powered's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies The last post you wrote. It was nonsense.

futurelaker88's avatar

@Girl_Powered – now you are claiming to have the answer without a doubt. sorry i bothered then. I didnt realize that you had the final answer to a question that the worlds greatest scholars couldnt even get close to dogmatically answering, but you know lol. ok, well thank you i guess, we were all wondering about this but i guess you just summed it all up…might i ask while im at it…“where is Emelia Earheart? Ive always wanted to know!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Girl_Powered

A lack of understanding does not justify calling something nonsensical, or becoming the accuser by suggesting that I must be stoned. A person would be foolish to call Algebra “nonsense” just because they don’t understand it. They would be wise to ask questions about it.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Debating the existence of gods is like teaching Sanskrit to a pony. It is futile and only annoys the pony.

Girl_Powered's avatar

@futurelaker88 “A poor translation”? It is the Original King James.

Well if you don’t like sarcasm, don’t read my posts. I am not a tolerant Christian, I made no claim or implication along those lines. I am sarcastic when dealing with anyone who eschews logic. The entire history of the church is a series of corrupt incidents and abuse of power by evil men. There is nothing noble about it. If JC did still exist he would be sickened by it.

As for Amelia Earheart she is hiding under my bed. I bring her out and chat when I get bored.

lillycoyote's avatar

Sadly, in these discussions there always seems to be a great deal of confusion between what it means to debate the existence of God and what it means to debate the validity and logic of various specific schools of religious doctrine, dogma, theology, etc.. Not the same thing at all.

DarkScribe's avatar

@futurelaker88 What great scholars would those be? Most modern scholars aren’t practicing Christians. I have spent time on a number of the world’s top campuses and have yet to see the chapels full on any but a special occasion. When you have a Christian student and academic body that numbers more twenty-eight times the standing room only capacity of the chapel and the chapel is always near empty during services I don’t think that you can claim scholars have much interest in the Church.
It wasn’t much better in times past. At Cambridge and Oxford when I was a kid it was the same whenever I visited. Even the school of divinity couldn’t manage to fill the chapel.

If God made everything, and God chose to make me an atheist – who are you to question him?

(If it wasn’t for blasphemy most people would never hear the name of God.)

DarkScribe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies That is a common God Botherer claim.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@DarkScribe
I don’t believe that claim, though I do believe in God.

Girl_Powered's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Maybe you believe in a different god to the one @DarkScribe doesn’t believe in?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@DarkScribe @futurelaker88

The scholars that futurelaker speaks of don’t necessarily have to be interested in the Church. It is a common misconception to associate the Church and God as the same things. The pews may be empty yes, but scholars still entertain the notions of Gods existence.

lillycoyote's avatar

@DarkScribe I think the scholars futurelaker88 may be referring to, perhaps folks like Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Descartes. Erasmus. Leibniz, Hume, Pascal, Bertrand Russell, Spinoza, Tillich, Nietzsche, C.S. Lewis, etc, greater minds than yours or mine, (well maybe I should speak only for myself), have been unable to provide definitive proof of the existence of God one way or the other, yet you claim to have absolute knowledge that there is no God. Do you have an argument?

AstroChuck's avatar

And God said, “Let there be Satan, so people don’t blame everything on me. And behold! Let there be lawyers, so people don’t blame everything on Satan.”
Hallelujah. Amen.

DarkScribe's avatar

@lillycoyote I don’t need an argument to not claim something. I am simply not claiming that there is a God. If I claimed that there wasn’t a forty foot long tadpole in my bathtub, or that I hadn’t hidden an alien spaceship in my refrigerator would you want proof? I simply claim, very clearly, that there is no proof of any form of deity be it Christian or otherwise ever existing. I also observe that the likelihood or probability of such a thing defies all logic and known facts.

As for scholars, there are not many scholars who were not (biased) divinity scholars who have made any real attempt. People like FF Bruce, RVG Tasker, JI Packer, DJ Wiseman, for instance are accepted, awarded and well noted as Biblical Scholars, but they are effectively concerned with language and history, not divinity. They published some very highly regarded volumes – yet don’t attend Church? I have an intense interest in the historical aspects of the Church, the Bible etc., a fascination with it, but basically feel that if there was a God, he is an extraordinary failure. Not that I am ever likely to believe that there is a God. BTW I come from a family with a long line of ordained ministers.

AstroChuck's avatar

The way I see it is that if God really wants me to believe in Him he would give me a clear sign. Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.

mammal's avatar

i would think it sad if God could become proven/disproven merely through debate

lillycoyote's avatar

@DarkScribe You are making an affirmative statement though, and that affirmative statement is: “There is no God.” I just happen to think that the only “rational” way to think about the existence of God is agnosticism. To simply say “I don’t know because there is no way of knowing.” It is not necessarily rational to claim absolute knowledge and certainty about something for which there is no evidence on way or the other. It’s kind of a pedantic argument, I know but…

sinscriven's avatar

Debating is fun, to put it simply.
There’s no definite answer to the God question, and if there was it wouldn’t be a debatable issue to begin with. So I think (personally, for me at least) it’s a fun little game to play with another person. Since there’s no answer, it’s mostly the person with the best debating and logic skills wins the match.

Saying it’s pointless is like saying sparring in martial arts is pointless cause you don’t snap the loser’s neck.

DarkScribe's avatar

@lillycoyote Ok, I’ll make another definitive statement. There is no three legged Hippopotamus rollerskating in my en suite. Ok? I don’t believe in en suite obsessed rollerskating hippos. You cannot prove that there is or ever was a three legged rollerskating hippo in my en suite. If there WAS a three legged Hippo in my en suite it would defy all known science and logic as my en suite is considerably smaller in size than a HIppo, three or four legged. That’s me being pedantic…

mattbrowne's avatar

Good debates can help to improve your critical thinking skills. When you follow debates about the existence of God you will find that all debaters will fall into one of the following 5 categories:

1) “It is a fact that God exists”
2) “I believe that God exists”
3) “I don’t know if God exists or not” (or “I don’t want to decide about my belief”)
4) “I believe that God doesn’t exist”
5) “It is a fact that God doesn’t exist”

I’m a non-dogmatic Christian (category 2) who believes in God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. I also believe in enlightenment and scientific method.

Debates can get heated when category 1 and 5 people are involved. Debates are quite fruitful when category 2, 3 and 4 are involved.

Some atheists think there are no category 5 people but I think they are wrong. Dogma is very strong when it comes to defending atheism. The title ‘The God Delusion’ suggests category 5 and many readers perceive it that way, although Dawkins is too smart for being category 5 and falls into category 4. But selling lots of books is about good marketing and catchy titles.

Girl_Powered's avatar

@mattbrowne I have no problem with many of the teachings of Jesus, he was an historical figure; he did exist. I also have no problem with other prophets, christian or any other flavor, just with the fact that he thought that his father was Super Daddy. You can find guys like that standing on corners in any major city. I follow what many would regard as a christian lifestyle, just because I feel it is right, not in the hopes of ingratiating my way into heaven. Heaven by the way would probably be one of the most horrifyingly dull places imaginable. Think of the company you would be in!

lillycoyote's avatar

@mattbrowne Thank you matt, always the voice of reason (well almost always, I have yet to respond to your marijuana question, I have some issues with that :)). Atheists can be just as dogmatic and doctrinaire sometimes as religionists, and my only argument is against the absolutism, the absolute certainty of both positions, the 1 and 5 people.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

If you believe in God wholeheartedly enough to think others are better off with Him in their lives.. then yes.

Besides.. it’s fun.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Girl_Powered – In Christianity we are all God’s children. It’s a metaphor. God being our father (or mother) is also a metaphor. It represents a connection between the physical and spiritual world. Jesus liked the metaphor and he often talked about God as his father (not as a super daddy). Biologically speaking, Jesus had a real mother and a father, Maria and whoever made Maria pregnant (not Joseph obviously).

GAMBIT's avatar

I’ve been in many debates and they always seem to come down to faith. A person believes or they don’t.

dynamicduo's avatar

@mattbrowne I’m curious, have you read The God Delusion? In it, I do remember that Dawkins takes time to identify how we can never prove a negative, and most if not all like minded people I associate recognize that your category 5 is impossible.

But I primarily take issue to the wording of your category 4. With your phrasing, you leave the door open to those who would argue “but you believe something! You have faith in nothingness! Thus how can you decry religion?” and this is never an argument I care to rehash (and rehash really is the word). Many would prefer you phrase it as: 4) I do not believe that a God exists, or even better, I have no proof that a God exists, thus I do not support that theory.

The reason I take so many words to make this distinction is that my belief in God was determined (mostly) via the same way I determine my shoe size, the temperature, everything else in the world, via observation and information, combined with the knowledge of others. And there is simply no support for the idea that a God exists or needs to exist, not one shred of scientific valid proof. Where we came from and why we are here are explained by science very crudely but truthfully (we came from random chance, it’s a blank slate so make your own purpose). Your phrasing makes it seem as if I somehow have a belief that God does not exist, but the opposite is really more accurate, there is no evidence concluding that a God exists, and I believe the evidence.

mattbrowne's avatar

@dynamicduo – It’s not true that we can’t prove that something doesn’t exist. An example is the halting problem.

From Wikipedia: In computability theory, the halting problem is a decision problem which can be stated as follows: given a description of a program and a finite input, decide whether the program finishes running or will run forever, given that input. Alan Turing proved in 1936 that a general algorithm to solve the halting problem for all possible program-input pairs cannot exist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halting_problem

In logic, proof by contradiction is a form of proof that establishes the truth or validity of a proposition by showing that the premise that the proposition is false implies a contradiction. Since by the law of bivalence a proposition must be either true or false, and its falsity has been shown impossible, the proposition must be true.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_contradiction

However, in the case of the existence of God, math or logic or science won’t help us. We have to live with the fact that we don’t know.

It wasn’t my intention to phrase category 4 in a negative way. In fact, even though I believe in God I prefer to have fruitful debates with non-dogmatic atheists rather than with dogmatic religious people. Dogmatic religion i.e. some forms of organized religion has the potential to become dangerous to our society. Today. And the history is full of negative examples as well.

But dogmatic (and to some extent hot-blooded) atheists are also a problem, because they confuse fact with belief. They think they know for a fact that something doesn’t exist, while this is in fact only a belief, namely the belief that a deity doesn’t exist. Why is dogmatic atheism a problem? It polarizes and radicalizes society. We can see this happening in parts of the United States. Using terms like ‘silly rituals’ and ‘time-wasting’ can hurt the feelings of religious people and drive them deeper into magic thinking and dogmatism and fundamentalism. This isn’t a good trend and won’t help us deal with the enormous challenges of the 21st century. We need tolerance and open mindedness on all sides. Moderation and humility are key. So here’s my plea to all hot-blooded vocal atheists: Please think twice before you unload your anger and please choose your terms more carefully. Not all religious people are stupid and backward and part of an oppressive horrible organized religion. Atheists who engage in this kind of thinking follow George W. Bush’s black and white, good and evil perception of the world.

I’m okay with

4) I do not believe that a God exists

but not okay with

4) I have no proof that a God exists, thus I do not support that theory

There won’t be any proof. And we are not talking about a theory. We are talking about a belief.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

there’s always a point to debate. we all say we’ll never prove if god exists or not… but I’m pretty sure 900 years ago no one was wondering about black holes either…

Facade's avatar

No point whatsoever. It’s getting old really.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 – Black holes are a part of our physical world. God by the very definition is ‘out of scope’ so to speak. If we prove God exists we’d have to change the definition of a deity. So, no proof can be expected, say 900 years into the future.

justwannaknow's avatar

I am glad we have so many religious leaders on here to debate the scholars that have all the answers.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it depends on your age and the sophistication of the people you are arguing against or who are on your side. After a while, you will have heard most arguments before. You gain nothing new from further discussions.

However, I’d be happy to take this up with @mattbrowne, since I’d never heard of the halting problem before, and I’m not sure I understand it. I wonder if it could be used to prove there is no definable god that exists. Or that a definable god can’t exist.

Although most religions I know of say you can’t define god. You can’t know the whole of god. So there’s no point in trying to prove or disprove something that you don’t know what it is.

Does God exist?

Define God.

Silence.

Oh well, thought we’d have ourselves a good argument, but I guess not.

skfinkel's avatar

I think people enjoy debating each other—and what could be better when the answer will always be murky? It’s part of the human condition.

Blondesjon's avatar

Yes!

If he does exist, my brother owes me twenty bucks.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Define God?

Imagine a universe where Atheists are right, and there is no God. The Truth of that universe is that there is no God. Truth still exists where there is no God.

Imagine a universe where Theists are right, and there is a God. The Truth of that universe is that God exists. Truth still exists where there is a God.

So we have a scenario where Truth trumps God, existing where God can and existing where God cannot. Hence we have something that is greater than God. Truth is greater than God. Yet the entire concept of God is that nothing can be greater than God.

Logic follows, that if there is a God, then God is Truth.

I cannot imagine a scenario where Truth could not exist. Even if I am lying, then I am Truly lying. If we lived in an entirely deceptive universe, then it would be True that we live in an entirely deceptive universe. This is the boundary that we cannot cross as humans. We cannot kill the Truth. If we killed the Truth, then it would be True that we killed the Truth. The dragon chases its tail with that one because it can never happen. What can eat itself and live?

My research of every major religion has turned up some pretty basic principles. The most profound being that God is Truth.

“As it is” for the Hindu
“I Am” for the Jew
“The Way, the Truth, and the Life” for the Christian

Accept the Way of Truth and Live.

Oh… but you ask, “What is Truth”?

Coming full circle here friend. Truth is Information.

dannyc's avatar

Define Truth.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

I did. Truth is Information.

dannyc's avatar

Information does not equal Truth. Information can also be false, thus untrue.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

False Information is Truly false Information.

dannyc's avatar

That is a ridiculous non sequitor

dannyc's avatar

Truth is as intangible as God, and leads to the same circuitous arguments, which are in the end non debatable, or at least unsolvable.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

It is Truthfully a “ridiculous non sequitor”. So I’ll elaborate a bit. To call something false, means that it is not genuine. If it is not genuine Truth, then it is not Truth at all.

The premise of false Information is flawed to begin with. Information Theorists call that “noise”. Noise is not Information. Noise attempts to destroy Information.

Truth is God.

Noise is Satan.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

If we argue semantics, then you are correct. But I have defined Truth as equal to Information. There is no semantic argument here.

Information is not intangible. It is very real.

dannyc's avatar

mmmm.. I think you are complicating things. Water freezes at 0 degrees C. If i say, it freezes at 2 degrees C that is false, no noise, just untrue information. Information Theorists..never heard of them..sounds like people with too much time on their hands, or minds. Truth is about bias, in the eye/brain of the beholder. Information is true or false, and sometimes testable.

justwannaknow's avatar

Theory and reality which is right?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

Claude Shannon and Norbert Weiner are two of those Information Theorists with too much time on their hands. Thanks to their efforts, we are able to communicate with each other in the manner we are currently enjoying.

Cybernetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Sciences, Communication Sciences… All made possible by the Information Theorist.

Information Theorists define false information as noise. There is no such thing as false information.

lillycoyote's avatar

In the interest of pedantics and semantics “information” generally refers to something that is factual, true, etc.

The basic dictionary definition of information is:

1. knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; news: information concerning a crime.
2. knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc.; factual data: His wealth of general information is amazing.

dannyc's avatar

Well, I must read up on that endeavor, and thank you for enlightening me. Having said that, I, in my layman’s logic, I think their definition of false information as horsefeathers. They need to get out more.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

Your opinion of established science is a personal truth. Personal truth is nothing more than a personal deception. You can’t just “believe” something away.

Look dannyc…

Opinions are important. They distinguish us from others, foster creativity, and encourage individual self expression. But think of opinions as many different rooms in a house of Truth. Those opinions are valid and we can enjoy each others company by visiting the other rooms in the house. Those opinions share a strong foundation and the stable structure of leaning on one another for support.

But evil becomes incarnate when someone believes that their personal room of opinion IS a house of Truth. A room cannot stand by itself with no supporting outer framework to stabilize it. It is a shack, and will fall apart with the mildest storm of inspection put upon it.

Only the opinions that share the protection under the house of Truth can Truly withstand the storm. They are stable enough for historical reference as well.

dannyc's avatar

No, science has nothing to do with my opinion. I disagree with your evil incarnate ramble. I have no storm, just what I believe, which in my mind is clear logic. You are confusing your postulated presentations of fact with generally accepted frameworks of logic, though I am fascinated at its convoluted clarity for your perception of accuracy.

Darwin's avatar

evil incarnate ramble?

no storm?

What am I missing here?

dannyc's avatar

Perhaps by rereading your post, you will see it makes no sense. In my opinion. though you “Truly” believe it, it is actually false information, thus you have defeated, albeit with unawareness, your premises of expounding Truth.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

this calls to mind the quote: “When it comes to Satan, we have only heard one side of the story, and every story has two sides.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

I never suggested that you had a storm. Only that when a storm of inspection presents itself upon your opinion, that your opinion will not stand unless it is within the confines of the house of Truth.

So, what exactly is your argument against the established and widely accepted science of Information Theory? What issues do you have with the definition of Information that lillycyote presented?

It is only your opinion that false Information is real. Sorry danny, there is no such thing. What you speak of is “noise on the line”. Noise degrades the signal.

dannyc's avatar

A storm suggests discord. True scientific analysis and logic are based on positive principles of human curiousity. If you mean the scientific method, it is a system not a theory of investigation. I am not arguing, only stating what is obvious. If you see it differently, then that is fine. Test your hypothesis, present evidence for it, and make it testable. Then one can react via feedback loop to assist the debate to find a solution. Most of what you have espoused is just opinion, with no directly observable data to support it. Don’t be sorry for disagreeing, I am okay with it. That False information exists is a fact, not an opinion. It is testable, logical, and irrefutable. False information is not truth. Truth is not false information. That is my theory in use, and strong evidence supports it. If you can prove that false information is truth, then I would ask you to present the directly observable data.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dannyc

I’m not saying that false Information is Truth. I said it was Truly false Information.

I also said that false Information is not genuine Information. If it is not genuine Information, then it is not Information at all. Hence false Information does not exist.

SETI deals with this all the time. They are looking for a codified signal. They know that where there is code, there is also Information. They fully understand that Information comes from a sentient entity. Everything else is white noise, static.

When noise and static are mistaken as genuine Information, then deception has triumphed over Truth. That is evil.

dannyc's avatar

Well, on that note, I will respectfully say you have lost me. But I appreciate the exchange you sound interesting.

DarkScribe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies False information can exist. False has many meanings, intention to deceive being one. I can make a false statement that is absolutely true – all that is required is that I did not believe it to be true.

mattbrowne's avatar

@daloon – The halting problem is about computer programs doing some calculation and then come to an end. For example ask daloon to enter a number then multiply it by 2 and print the result for daloon and then you’re done. This is an example of a finite program.

Now take the Windows XP operating system, do something and watch the hourglass mouse cursor for a while. Hmm. Go get some coffee, come back and look at the screen. Still the hourglass mouse cursor. What’s going on? Press ctrl-alt-del. Nothing. Has Windows XP entered an infinite loop? Maybe. Hard too tell for sure. I could get another cup of coffee, you might think. Then what? Should I get a different operating system? Linux? Wait, I’ll buy a diagnostic program first, feed Windows XP and Linux into it and wait for an answer. Yes, that’s an ingenious approach. I want to know: Does Windows XP contain infinite loops i.e. programs that never terminate? Does Linux contain infinite loops i.e. programs that never terminate?

Well, the trouble is the diagnostic program doesn’t exist, at least if you want to feed it any arbitrary program, for example other operating systems or Microsoft Office, even programs not yet written today. The diagnostic program will never exist. Not tomorrow. Not in a 1000 years. This is the halting problem.

We can try to define God (or a deity) and still not know about the whole of God. Here’s an example (one that I don’t particularly like): A deity is a postulated preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers. My definition is a little different and more abstract: God is one possible answer to two of the ultimate why questions. 1) Why does something exist (or why is there a universe/multiverse)? and 2) Why is the universe/multiverse the way it is?

Can we prove or disprove God? No we can’t. So you’re right, there’s not point to try to prove or disprove something that we don’t know what it is exactly. It’s out of scope of the system that is accessible to us. But we can still have a little fun debating it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@DarkScribe

If the original intent was to deceive, then the message that was sent must be true to the original intent. That is not false information nor is it noise on the line. You have sent a clear signal that is true to your original intent. That makes it genuine Information which was intended to deceive.

If you sent false Information (noise), then your original intent to deceive would never have been accomplished.

DarkScribe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies So if I told a guy that his wife was having an affair, with no knowledge whatsoever about his wife or her life, but it turns out that she actually did have an affair, in your case one of two things has happened; my deliberate lie was not a lie, or she has magically been exonerated. Which would it be? Even if it is true, I have still lied. No?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@DarkScribe

That is a wonderful example, but no, you have not lied. You’ve simply made an unqualified statement. To actually lie, one has to first know the facts, and then intentionally change them to create a deception.

Similar to a threatening code hacker who knows very little about the operating system he’s working with. He is unqualified for the particular situation, yet threatens to do harm. The harm he intends is from the threat, not the action. He is surprised to learn that damage has already been done by someone else.

He has not lied either. He has presented erroneous Information that happened to coincide with the actions of someone else.

In order for the hacker to do harm, he must author real and genuine Information. He could not do it with “noise”. His code is True to his intentions of doing harm. He Truthfully instructs the computer to do something other than what is was originally designed for. False Information (noise), only makes it harder for the computer, but it does not change the original code.

Usually a restart is all that is required to defeat noise.

wundayatta's avatar

Well, to this discussion, I pose the question: is anything knowable? Similarly: what is knowledge?

For me, knowledge is the best explanation of phenomena that currently exists. The implication is that a better explanation could come along, and that would replace current knowledge.

Now, I imagine that there are a significant number of people who have a different definition of knowledge. Their definition is not provisional. They believe that things can be known in such a way that the knowledge will never change. I.e., that there are some explanations of phenomena that are the final, complete explanations.

I think that the latter definition allows the concept of “truth” to exist. As in truth is the final, complete knowledge of a thing. If such a thing exists, then I suppose one could hypothesize an intelligent entity that can grasp all of the truth.

From my point of view, knowledge and truth are used pretty much interchangeably. Like many terms, few people stop to define them, so we use them in a kind of fuzzy way, and it works just fine for most purposes. So, for me, truth is also the best explanation of phenomena that currently is known to humankind.

Truth/knowledge, then is a model of reality. It is a model of natural (and by this, I mean all things that happen in the universe) phenomena. No model can be perfect. A complete, perfectly accurate model would be the thing being modeled, itself. So for me, the only absolute truth is the universe itself, which is what it is. Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately), I, as a limited human can not possibly model all behavior of the universe. I can not even imagine a being ever able to do so.

Anyway, if God is absolute truth, then, by my understanding, God must be the universe. It is only the universe that “knows” itself. Since most conceptions of God suggest that God is intelligent, then one could say that the universe is alive and it thinks. God knows all, by some definitions of God, and this would make sense in that, if the universe were conscious, it would be the only thing that could know all.

Humans, however, are limited in understanding and capability. We know very little of all there is to know in this universe. We model many things, and some of those models are accurate enough for us to depend on them. Most are not nearly that accurate. A model can never predict totally accurately, so, as long as we are modeling, we can not know truth. We can only have provisional truths. Provisional knowledge.

In other words, we can not know whether God exists or not, so long as we define God as all powerful and all omniscient everything. In fact, we can not know whether all the universe exists or not, for a similar reason: the universe is everything. It’s impossible for us to know it all without being it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

I really have to challenge you on this. Truth and Knowledge are definitely not the same things. Otherwise, how could we ever have Knowledge OF the Truth.

There are many Truths that we have no Knowledge of. Knowledge comes from accepting the Truth. Ignorance comes from denying the Truth.

Before the electroencephalogram, we had no Knowledge about the Truth of the existence of Brainwaves.

The telescope provides a mechanism for attaining Knowledge on the Truth about the galaxy.

Truth can only be accepted or denied. It will not be possessed. Knowledge can be possessed.

wundayatta's avatar

I realized that some things should be different. Knowledge and Truth are not equivalent. Knowledge is what we currently hypothesize that explains the behavior of the universe. Truth is that which completely reflects the behavior of the universe. Truth, of course, is still unknowable. Our approximations, presumably, get closer and closer, at least, in some areas, but we will never even be close.

I started writing this before @RealEyesRealizeRealLies started his post. He should be able to verify that.

So, in response to what he just wrote, we differ on where knowledge comes from. I say Truth is unknowable. Knowledge comes from a different place. From hypotheses that are verified or not. Knowledge is always an incomplete model of truth.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Truth is authored friend. It comes from a mind, every time. You just authored the Truth about your beliefs. It is very knowable. I currently have Knowledge of your True thoughts.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I don’t get it. Truth comes from a mind? Does this mean truth is belief? Something else? How do minds apprehend truth? Do you have a different definition of truth from me?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

As I eluded to earlier, and in our previous discussions, Truth is Information. Information is always authored from a mind. It is the description of our observations (to the best of our ability).

“Does this mean truth is belief?”
Not necessarily a belief, but how we describe our observations. We can still believe there is more to observe and describe. I believe that future telescopes will provide us with more observable phenomenon to describe. That description is the Truth about our observations. You mentioned this earlier, “The implication is that a better explanation could come along”.

All along the way, we are becoming more and more aware of God by authoring new Truth into our realm of existence.

This fits nicely within the Sphota Theory of Bhartrihari, where spoken language is the manifestation of Brahman (God).
http://www.iep.utm.edu/b/bhartrihari.htm

This fits nicely within the traditional Judeo-Christian model.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God, and the Word became flesh”.

Remember the Bible also teaches that God “spoke” the universe into existence. And God said, “Let there be…”

Buddhism speaks of the Way. The Way is a set of instructions to be followed. If we do not follow the proper Way, then things will not turn out the proper Way. It’s just like assembling a cheap desk set from Office Depot. If we don’t follow the Way that the instructions intended, then the desk will be assembled improperly.

Christ said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the father except through me”. So if we don’t follow the Way, we will never have knowledge of the Truth, nor will we ever receive the Life that is intended for us.

“How do minds apprehend truth?”
Through the description of observable phenomenon. But it does not happen all at once any more than a math student can apprehend Calculus when she is still learning about Division. We observe the phenomenon, describe it (manifesting that reality into our lives), and then we observe it again, author new Information about it, and slowly at our own pace, we reveal the nature of God by authoring Truth into our dimension.

It does not force itself upon us, as Religious Bigots might have us believe. It allows us to bring it forth into our realm as we see fit, giving us only as much as we can handle at any given instance.

The Petabyte Age is turning the Scientific Method and its Theories upside down.
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_intro

It replaces the traditional Information processing theories of data analysis and mega/tera storage solutions. The Petabyte is a “Cloud of Information”, and it cannot be scrutinized with archaic methods. It seems to be starting to speak to us, rather than relying upon us to analyze it.

When Christ spoke of his return, about the second coming, he said, “You will see me coming on the clouds of heaven”.

If God is Truth, and Truth is Information, and the Petabyte Age presents us with an Information Cloud… well you get the idea. On December 21st, 2012, Information is predicted to double every nano second. How will it be possible to lie when that happens? Any claim could be verified instantly.

I believe the return of Christ will be marked by the moment that we can no longer lie to one another. Deception will be conquered and vanquished forever.

Christ also told us, “The Kingdom of Heaven is in you”. That either refers to the Information that is present within our DNA, or speaks of our own God like ability to author entirely new Information. After all, if we are children of God, shouldn’t we have a few fatherly traits?
If this God that I speak of is Truly a being of pure Information, then we are currently proclaiming it into existence at a faster and faster rate. Even as we speak about it here.

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloonyou really need to use a different voice when you are posting as @RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Darwin's avatar

@Blondesjon -So is daloon arguing with himself again?

DarkScribe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies /@Daloon
>That is a wonderful example, but no, you have not lied. You’ve simply made an unqualified statement. To actually lie, one has to first know the facts, and then intentionally change them to create a deception.

Are you serious? That is one of the most nonsensical statements that I have seen in months.You are claiming that is impossible to lie without knowing the “facts”. (Why am I suddenly thinking of Joe Friday?)

Ok, I don’t know ANYTHING about you, so if I publish something defamatory about you, say for instance that you were a racist, a wife beater, a convicted felon and a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and you turn out not to be any of those things (It could happen…) I am quite ok, you can’t sue, as according to you as I don’t actually “know” so I am not lying? Because unbeknownst to me, you might be all of those things? It is just an “unqualified statement”?

Do you know what an unqualified statement is in law? In law an unqualified statement presented as a fact is a lie if the person making it does not know it to be true. This isn’t even semantics, it is waffle.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Scientists care about the truth. Otherwise why would they be interested to do science? To me belief means knowing something might be true. Belief isn’t the same as fact. Yet even perceived facts are only an approximation at any given time. Overwhelming evidence might look different decades or centuries later (look at Newton versus Einstein for example).

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@DarkScribe

Are you qualified to make those statements about me? You have the physical mechanics, mouth, larynx, fingers, keyboard… so yes you are “physically” qualified to make statements. But what about the notion you present? Are you qualified to speak on a subject that you know nothing about?

Is anyone qualified to speak on matters they know nothing about? Do you call it lying if they do? If they said they were qualified to speak, and they are not, then that is a lie. But speaking on a matter without first qualifying yourself is not lying. It is an unqualified statement.

Example: And I’m not pointing this at you. I certainly appreciate your cooperation in discussing (debating). It’s what I come here for… to shake up the mind.

So as an example, there are many on this forum and numerous others who attempt to hold a conversation on things they know nothing about. They might feel that the discovery channel has given them all the qualification to speak fluently on a subject, when in fact, they have simply become aware of something and decide to spout an opinion. Their opinion is based upon one side superficial awareness, not knowledge. They speak upon matters they do not know and base their “feelings” on how it relates to them alone, with no objective reasoning put forth.

Have they lied, or are they making unqualified statements?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

I’m unsure what you are asking of me. I certainly did not mean to suggest that science is not interested in Truth. As well, we agree that belief is not the same as fact.

I agree with your entire statement and “believe” it was made clear earlier.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Sure. It was more of a comment. Not a question.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

Just making sure… I kind of thought so. Do you have any issues with my lineage association with Truth?

God=Truth=Information

In that sense, science authors Information, revealing a layer of Truth about an observation, manifesting another part of God into our realm.

Yes, we author God into our realm of existence with every word we speak. The more we become an Information based society, the more we manifest God into our realm of existence.

I don’t know anyone except Bhartrihari and Terrence McKenna who would agree with me on that… maybe not even Terrence. How about you?

In the beginning was the Word.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Blondesjon

Possibly. You may be correct on that. Too bad he and I disagree so vehemently on the concept of the Now.

Blondesjon's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies…Isn’t that the same as Christians arguing about the proper way to perform the Eucharist?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Blondesjon

Heh… nice comparison. Perhaps you are on to something that I shouldn’t be so concerned about. But I am a hard linguist, and see the potential for evil in the commonly held notions of the Now, put forth by Watts and even Tolle.

Our messages are very similar, as your insight points to. However, they are mistaken in the way they describe the message. The Now does not and cannot exist. Etymologically speaking, now here is nowhere. Find this Now for me…

There is only the Present, the Current, and the Moment.

The Now is death. I cannot say that I am dead Currently. I cannot say that I am dead Presently. I cannot say that I am dead at this Moment. I can only say that I am dead Now. I can even get the message across without using the word Now. I am dead, is all that is required, illustrating the delusional usage of the word Now.

I wish they could see that.

Blondesjon's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies…I can call a light bulb a light bulb, or I can call it a shiny lamp thing, or I can call it an anti-dark device.

None of that changes the fact that when I flip the switch, the bulb turns on and the room lights up.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Blondesjon

Agreed. The medium is never the message. The message can be codified in numerous different ways and still get the point across. And “essentially”, our messages are similar.

I have seen something else however, and have clearly illustrated it as different from the other terms not only in the medium used, but also in the deepest essence of the message transmitted.

The Now is stillborn. It neglects the flowing processes of living. The “will be”, “is”, and “was” that are reserved only for that which is alive. The Now is like the pause button on the DVD player. A short inspection of any one given frame can be of assistance. But we can never get the entire picture from any one still frame.

We must press play again and let the entire epic be viewed in its intended form. A single frame is not the intended form. It stops everything and kills the life.

When a person holds onto their greed, anger, lust, jealousy, revenge… and they refuse to move beyond that single still frame, thinking that the still frame IS the bigger picture… that is evil incarnate. They have refused the gift of the Present, damned the flow of the Current, and mangled the momentum of the Moment.

They have entered the Now. They think they are alive in their spite, when actually they are dead in the Now.

Blondesjon's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies…It is a very interesting take but I guess I prefer my reality to be relatively Funk & Wagnalls free.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Both religions and science require faith. Faith in God and faith in math, respectively. Here’s a quote I’ve used in one of the other threads as well:

“Faith is inseparable from the scientific endeavor. You cannot do math without faith in its consistency because the consistency of math cannot be proved.” (John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science)

In this context truth might mean ‘good faith’. But the word truth has other meanings as well, for example truth in first order logic.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

Interesting. More of this… please go on.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Okay, here’s more:

Take a Ford motor car. It is conceivable that someone from a remote part of the world, who was seeing one for the first time and who knew nothing about modern engineering, might imagine that there is a god (Mr. Ford) inside the engine, making it go. He might further imagine that when the engine ran sweetly it was because Mr. Ford inside the engine liked him, and when it refused to go it was because Mr. Ford did not like him. Of course, if he were subsequently to study engineering and take the engine to pieces, he would discover that there is no Mr. Ford inside it. Neither would it take much intelligence for him to see that he did not need to introduce Mr. Ford as an explanation for its working. His grasp of the impersonal principles of internal combustion would be altogether enough to explain how the engine works. So far, so good. But if he then decided that his understanding of the principles of how the engine works made it impossible to believe in the existence of a Mr. Ford who designed the engine in the first place—in philosophical terminology he would be committing a category mistake. Had there never been a Mr. Ford to design the mechanisms, none would exist for him to understand.

Source: John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science

What does this tell us about the so-called rational arguments of some atheists who think faith is the same as blind faith?

See also my new question:

http://www.fluther.com/disc/45029/a-theological-parable-does-mr-ford-exist/

wundayatta's avatar

@mattbrowne Do you use language due to faith that it works or evidence that it works?

mattbrowne's avatar

@daloon – There’s empirical evidence that natural language or the language of math works well in real life. Saving lives because of good weather forecasts is an example. But we can’t be sure about the accuracy and consistency of mathematical systems in general. See my comments in the other threads (the mathematical ‘earthquake’ in 1931).

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

I love that… “the language of math”. It’s so obvious. Another tool to be used for a specific purpose. It can help me count the stars, but it is useless in helping me explain how I feel about them. For that, only poetry will do.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Not so fast there, buddy! ;-)

It is the business of social scientists to figure out ways of predicting emotions. We don’t do it very well, but we have come up with some predictive power. I doubt anyone has studied how people feel about the stars (astronomy perhaps, but not emotions associated with them), but it could be done. If we accurately identify and then measure every factor involved in feelings about stars, we should be able to predict those feelings, and explain them with as much as 60% accuracy.

But, I take your meaning about poetry. Of course, I find poetry to be rather perilous as a means of communication. The coding/decoding problems there are enormous.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Certainly what you say is true.

mattbrowne's avatar

@daloon – Emotions that we feel depend on three factors: sensory input from the outside world as well as input from our internal world i.e. the brain and body. We can figure out how neurotransmitters and hormones work and how neurons fire. Predicting emotions however will eventually become so complex that even a computer the size of Jupiter can’t give us reliable answers. The necessary calculations are simply too complex. How will the solar system look like in 10 years (position of all planets with an accuracy of say 1 meter)? We don’t know. Although science in principle has the potential to answer this question we will still fail, because we don’t have a computer the size of Jupiter (yet). Ray Kurzweil predicts we might get this kind of computer in a couple of decades. Why is the planets’ behavior hard to predict? It works for 2 planets, see Newton’s and Kepler’s laws. What about 3 planets? Or 8 planets. Well, virtually impossible. Here’s why

The n-body problem is the problem of finding, given the initial positions, masses, and velocities of n bodies, their subsequent motions as determined by classical mechanics, i.e., Newton’s laws of motion and Newton’s law of gravity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N-body_problem

Prediction emotions? Same complexity in my opinion.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t have to predict emotions within a 1 meter tolerance. I merely have to predict them with statistically significantly more accuracy than chance. I think I can already do better than that. If I kick you in the knee, I can predict you will feel a lot of anger towards me. I don’t need to know anything about neurotransmitters.

I think we will get much more accurate than that. As I suggested above, I think that with some emotions, we may get to the point where we have an r-squared of .6.

It will be impossible to ever get all emotions right all the time; same as in the n-body problem. I don’t have to do that, though. In social sciences there is always an error term. I think there should be one in the hard sciences, too, for reasons such as those you point out in the n-body problem. Of course, your r-squared will be a hell of a lot larger than mine!

Also, no Kurzweil computer will ever be able to be perfectly accurate. Humans do not all do the same things under the same circumstances, and we will never be able to measure circumstances well enough, nor build a model complete enough to be perfectly accurate in our predictions. I don’t have a proof of this, and I am merely extrapolating my experience.

I suspect the same is true in hard sciences. We are not measuring everything involved in celestial mechanics, and even if we could know every factor involved, we probably couldn’t measure it with sufficient accuracy to make predictions within various tolerances we might choose.

If we don’t know what to measure and we don’t know how to measure it, then we can’t model it with complete accuracy. But that doesn’t mean we can’t model it with some accuracy. And some accuracy is generally good enough for whatever we happen to be trying to do.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

If you kick me in the knee you will have my sympathy and forgiveness. If you kick my son in the knee you will have my anger and his sorrow. Will it ever be possible to predict emotional responses from pain input levels? You suggest not, but what if the data were available for all personality types, demographics… somehow program for life experiences…

Do you think it possible if all attributes of a person could be accounted for in the equation?

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies We will be able to make predictions. The question is how accurate those predictions will be. Let’s say if we randomly choose a reaction, we can get it right 5% of the time. Then, if we have a model that gets it right 6% of the time and the difference from the random prediction is statistically significant, we can say that our model uses factors that are correlated with the response to the particular stimulus. Then I can use this model to make predictions. I’ll still be wrong 94% of the time, but I won’t be doing it randomly.

Let’s say I had information about your background, your religion, and your upbringing, I might be able to predict that, instead of getting angry when I kicked you in the knee, you’d be sympathetic and forgiving (yeah, right, lol). I suspect you would be the kind of outlier that could never be predicted by any model.

Ok, so let’s suppose we could measure all attributes of a person. In theory, we might be able to build a model that successfully predicts that person’s behavior most or all of the time. Of course, we can’t measure all the attributes of a person, first because we don’t know all the attributes we need to measure, and second because we don’t have measurement tools (and probably never will) to measure these attributes accurately enough. There will never be a completely accurate model.

Having said that, we can still make predictions, and we can still improve our models to the point where we make it accurate enough for our purposes. One must always be careful with models, though. Racism, for example, is the result of a simplistic model of human behavior.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

I’ve been considering this social modeling recently. Disgusted with how predictable I am through my credit card purchases. Hair cut once a month, car wash twice a month, new shoes once every two months… and it’s almost fractal in essence with time scales. Coffee and donut every morning, lunch on Washington Ave at 1pm every day (once a month on Locust St)...

That data and much more is available currently… Combine that with social profiling questions about my ethics, theism… possibly interview acquaintances and contrast what they witness to my own personal self image.

What I’m saying is that the behavioral information is available if we could peer into the cloud and retrieve it and somehow author a statistical equation about it. Something akin to Terrence McKenna’s Novelty Theory.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies And God forbid they should ever link my credit card purchase information with my persona here! This was especially worrisome on Askville, which is run by a very large online retail firm. Although, how they might use this information, I don’t know. Is there a micro-market niche for trumpet-playing, atheist, research consultants?

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