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Thread: Does God Exist?

  1. #16
    CC Grandmaster Alan Shore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottColliver
    This a very broad question and really does it matter if a god exists if it doesn't have any impact on our life. There could theoretically be a god out there who has no interest in us and has given absolutely nothing away to there existance. It is impossible in my view to prove or disprove this God exists.

    I do believe that a god exists though as I expect you all realise. This is the God that is talked about in the Bible. So if you ask me why I believe that God exists I would say because the Bible exists and testifies to God's existance.

    Scott
    And what Bible is that Scott? The Tanakh, the Qu'ran, The New Testament?

    And if it's the NT, is it the KJV, the NIV? There is no 'The Bible'. There should be evidences of God throughout everyone's life - if he is to exist, he exists 'out there' not in a book written, rewritten and reinterpreted by men.
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  2. #17
    CC Grandmaster Alan Shore's Avatar
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    Paul S, regarding your arguments, you really should know about something called 'the anthropic principle'. I'll post a partial section of a paper I wrote about the effects of chance world view on purpose.


    When we speak of purpose and what is required to give rise to it, or indeed to life in general, it seems to be a quite a miracle that we are able to exist, based upon the physical laws of our universe. The notion that the laws of physics are in exact harmony to be capable of producing life is known as the Anthropic Principle. To illustrate just how seemingly remote the chances are of life existing, Gribbin and Rees examine the origins of carbon, the building block of life, inside stars where nuclear fusion takes place. At first glance there was a puzzle as to how so much carbon formed in the universe as a helium-4 atom was required to collide with beryllium-8; yet with the latter being incredibly unstable there would apparently be no time for carbon-12 to form in the limited window of 10^-17 seconds. However Fred Hoyle discovered a phenomenon known as atomic resonance, which meant due to the higher combined energy percentage of carbon-12 than the sum of helium-4 and beryllium-8, it could form, whereas other atoms such as oxygen-16 were much less likely to form due to its lower energy sum.
    The next puzzle was, how carbon, along with the other heavier elements, escaped the inside of stars. The answer lay in the supernova - when a star being at least some 25 times the mass of our sun reaches the end of its life, exhausting its supply of hydrogen, then helium and other heavier elements, explodes outward, hurtling its remnants across space. The process required neutrinos (formed in great number in the last moments of the star's life) to hurtle outward when the star has burned out the last of its heavier elements, taking with it the outer layers of the star. The point we take out of these cosmological wondrous events is if there were to be slight differences, the carbon we require for life would neither be created, nor escape the prison of the inside of the star. Similarly if the atomic force of a weak nuclear interaction was different, the neutrinos may not have escaped the core or interacted with the shockwave to expel the required elements out into space. Not only this but at the inception of the universe, altering this force may well have meant a complete and total absence of hydrogen (Gribbin and Rees).
    Considering these factors, the window for all events to occur as they have is a very narrow one. However, Gribbin and Rees also provide an alternative to the Anthropic Principle and make the distinction between things evolving in tune with their environment and the constant physical laws of the world around them. An analogy of a perfect-fitting suit is used to explain this anthropic principle; whether it was created specifically tailored to the individual or whether there were a vast array available to choose from. The latter is in actuality referring to the theory of alternative universes - that there may have be a large or even infinite set of them; yet the one in which we reside (perhaps the only one) was fortunate enough to sprout life.
    The basis for this 'Many Worlds' theory has its origins in quantum physics. There are probabilities involved regarding the position of electrons at a given point, giving us the ability to predict where it may likely be but without absolute certainty. Using these probabilities we can observe atomic behaviour and calculate accordingly, yet it's not possible to apply these principles to the universe at large for it must be observed from the outside, and as yet it is impossible to traverse the boudaries of our universe in order to do so. Due to these probability anomalies, the Many Worlds theory provides a solution insofar as that we can have all quantum possibilities in existence - with the same measurements taken in alternate universes yielding different answers (Gribbin and Rees). Since Many Worlds has the ability to provide a description of the entire universe in terms of quantum mechanics, it is a favourable theory. Does it allow for a sense of purpose? If these all these alternate worlds are in existence then I'd contend there's nothing to say they were not created for a purpose too, for it's feasible life could exist there too in forms we have not even begun to imagine, that may not breathe oxygen or be composed of carbon but may yet exist.
    Due to the presence of life, it may be inferred that we exist in a fine tuned, anthropic universe, perchance designed by a creator. However as Dowe points out, it is not necessarily an explanation, as effect does not necessarily explain its cause; in this case, the fact we exist is insufficient evidence for a fine tuned universe, despite its attractiveness in terms of the 'inference to the best explanation' (for something to be an explanation it must raise the probability), where the anthropic hypothesis would surely have a superior probability of being correct than pure randomness (as per Hoyle's view of the universe as essentially a 'monstrous series of accidents'). To build upon this, the further argument made by Leslie is that the probability of fine tuning, given God as a creator is greater than the probability of fine tuning on its own, based upon God wanting life and observers to the creation, hence providing a suitable environment for the observers to exist. This would certainly create a sense of purpose if it were to be the case.
    Some final points to consider regarding chance events and coincidences - are they really chance or are some events controlled by this creator beyond our own epistemological understanding? Is it feasible for both chance and a version of determinism to coexist? To illustrate, consider the creator using a kind of rough deterministic map that defines things to a point, until letting things go, like umpiring for half a football match, or when things have gotten too large to manage, simply controlled the important things, influencing events when possible and leaving the rest to chance? Perhaps such a combatibilist view would be fanciful to adopt but I do believe it may go a fair way into making puzzle pieces fit from all sides of the table.
    "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
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  3. #18
    CC Grandmaster Garvinator's Avatar
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    i think your post bruce might get the url treatment if that is possible

  4. #19
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Sweeney
    And how, pray tell, does a lay person discern good from bad science, without practising the art of higher level learning obtained only at a university? Pop sci lit doesn't cut the mustard for teaching how to dercern quality - it just says trust me. If you (Barry) than say to paul, "be sceptical," he must then be sceptical of the pop sci lit. Where does that leave him other than back in the kindergarten of magical thinking.
    Don't go post-modern on me!

    Skepticism is, I think, the most important quality there is in determine fact from fiction. It is a hard quality to nail down with a succinct definition but with reading, reflection, further research, etc it is (I believe) possible to discern for an interested reader with a high-school level of education to sort most of the sheep from the goats in the pop sci lit and everyone needs to develop their skepticism on their own.

    A good place to start is perhaps something on basic informal logic which will at least help one quickly identify fallacious arguments.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  5. #20
    CC Grandmaster antichrist's Avatar
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    If God Exists

    If God exists why doesn't he come down and argue his case. If he doesn't
    b-u-g-g-e-r him. Maybe he is scared of the same treatment he got last time he came.

  6. #21
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottColliver
    I do believe that a god exists though as I expect you all realise. This is the God that is talked about in the Bible. So if you ask me why I believe that God exists I would say because the Bible exists and testifies to God's existance.
    But why do you think that whatever the Bible says about God must be true?

  7. #22
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Dickinson
    The latter is in actuality referring to the theory of alternative universes - that there may have be a large or even infinite set of them; yet the one in which we reside (perhaps the only one) was fortunate enough to sprout life.
    This is one way out. Another one is that while we talk about various preconditions for life involving carbon and so on, we are really only talking about life as we know it. It's not impossible for life to have a different chemical basis (especially if you allow a little variation in the nature and properties of other elements similar to that required in arguing that life as we know it could easily not have happened) - we just haven't yet found any that does. There may well actually be such other life even within our universe.

    I mention this because some scientists find the multiple universe picture to be an odd one to be boxed into - given that (as you mention) other universes can only be inferred through theory and not experimentally proven to exist. On some definitions of "existence" the idea that such other universes even can "exist" could get a little bit dodgy.

    The no-God view flies just fine with or without other universes. The God view is also compatible with either, although some scriptures may not be.

    If these all these alternate worlds are in existence then I'd contend there's nothing to say they were not created for a purpose too, for it's feasible life could exist there too in forms we have not even begun to imagine, that may not breathe oxygen or be composed of carbon but may yet exist.
    That and "life" (whatever that is) is not required for a universe to have a "purpose" anyway.

    (Not that I believe the universe as a whole does have a purpose - or that whether it does makes any difference to the E of G debate.)

    However as Dowe points out, it is not necessarily an explanation, as effect does not necessarily explain its cause;
    I wonder if this is the same Dowe who lectures philosophy here and writes a lot of stuff on topics like this (Phil Dowe). Formerly a pinupboy for FOCUS (Christian students group), later publicly semi-recanted.

    To build upon this, the further argument made by Leslie is that the probability of fine tuning, given God as a creator is greater than the probability of fine tuning on its own, based upon God wanting life and observers to the creation, hence providing a suitable environment for the observers to exist.
    Only builds on it to any meaningful degree if the additional condition "God is the creator" is significantly probable. Some Christian arguments on points like this get very circular.

    Is it feasible for both chance and a version of determinism to coexist?
    Yes (to the extent of partial determinism - not "free will") in a universe without a creator. Perhaps in a universe with a creator but that depends on whether that creator is all-knowing or not. If an all-knowing creator:

    simply controlled the important things, influencing events when possible and leaving the rest to chance?
    ... then such a creator would be limited in either power or knowledge, for otherwise that creator could have anticipated what would happen "by chance" and must have chosen not to alter it.

  8. #23
    CC Grandmaster Alan Shore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    I mention this because some scientists find the multiple universe picture to be an odd one to be boxed into - given that (as you mention) other universes can only be inferred through theory and not experimentally proven to exist. On some definitions of "existence" the idea that such other universes even can "exist" could get a little bit dodgy.
    I wouldn't say they can never be experimentally proven to exist.. there are some interesting paradoxes though. Dowe actually believes the flaw with the Many Worlds theory is found in being unable to return to one's own universe if you are arriving at a time in the past, creating a logical contradiction.

    That and "life" (whatever that is) is not required for a universe to have a "purpose" anyway.
    Could you elaborate? What would be the purpose of the universe without life? Difficult one to grasp.. I can't see it happening without some form of sentience/consciousness.

    I wonder if this is the same Dowe who lectures philosophy here and writes a lot of stuff on topics like this (Phil Dowe). Formerly a pinupboy for FOCUS (Christian students group), later publicly semi-recanted.
    Actually, it is Phil Dowe, he now lectures at my university. I knew he was an expat Taswegian.. how much do you know about him? (Actually he reminds me a lot of Darryl Johansen in a way, hehe).


    Only builds on it to any meaningful degree if the additional condition "God is the creator" is significantly probable. Some Christian arguments on points like this get very circular.
    Well I think it's inherently assumed he is the creator.. I can see how it could be circular though, not a huge fan of the argument myself.

    ... then such a creator would be limited in either power or knowledge, for otherwise that creator could have anticipated what would happen "by chance" and must have chosen not to alter it.
    Assuming you choose to retain both properties of omnipotece and omniscience, but given that you run into a similar argument agaisnt the Problem of Evil: I would say one theory is the structure of the universe in this manner is somehow optimal for some things to be left to chance and other things to be tinkered with - it may seem malevolent but I think it has a lot of merit if you give it a chance.
    "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
    - White Queen, Alice through the Looking-Glass

  9. #24
    CC Grandmaster Alan Shore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ggrayggray
    i think your post bruce might get the url treatment if that is possible
    No, not possible, it's my own work.. consider it a long post with a lot of good points in it
    "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
    - White Queen, Alice through the Looking-Glass

  10. #25
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Dickinson
    Dowe actually believes the flaw with the Many Worlds theory is found in being unable to return to one's own universe if you are arriving at a time in the past, creating a logical contradiction.
    I'm not sure how you'd empirically distinguish between this kind of universe and things simply disappearing from the universe you were in (under certain conditions). Maybe it could be done somehow.

    Incidentally, the many-universe view that I would hold (if I had to believe firmly in many universes) would probably simply be one of universes composed of totally different forms of matter that in no way interacted with each other. These could then "exist" simultaneously with no problems.

    Could you elaborate? What would be the purpose of the universe without life? Difficult one to grasp.. I can't see it happening without some form of sentience/consciousness.
    This is tricky for me too because I don't make too much sense of claims for a purposive universe with God anyway. However if there is a purpose to the universe, why would that purpose necessarily involve "life"? The only obvious reason is that life has capacities for experience, consciousness, learning, worship etc - but I'm not convinced that "consciousness" is much beyond being able to record and retain certain information concerning yourself and your condition - which a non-alive structure like a computer can also, at least in theory, do.

    Actually, it is Phil Dowe, he now lectures at my university. I knew he was an expat Taswegian.. how much do you know about him?
    Not a great deal because he became prominent just after I escaped from that department. As I mentioned he was involved with FOCUS and widely considered to be a fundie, but then made a public statement to the effect that being a Christian does not necessarily make you a better person, which were viewed as distancing himself from FOCUS. He taught time-travel type stuff and a unit called "Chance, Coincidence + Chaos".

    I saw him defending his religious views at a Why I Am/Am Not a Christian type debate series and us students in the audience could hardly get a word in during question time because the atheist academic philosophers (eg most of his departmental colleagues) had come along to pick highly technical holes in his arguments.

    Interview published in the student rag in 2000 has him making the following comment about his book Physical Causation: "It's written in impenetrable philosophical language. P***es me off, actually." Also talks about him using time-travel stuff in pop SF as example material in lectures, and playing electric guitar.

  11. #26
    CC Grandmaster Alan Shore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Not a great deal because he became prominent just after I escaped from that department. As I mentioned he was involved with FOCUS and widely considered to be a fundie, but then made a public statement to the effect that being a Christian does not necessarily make you a better person, which were viewed as distancing himself from FOCUS. He taught time-travel type stuff and a unit called "Chance, Coincidence + Chaos".

    I saw him defending his religious views at a Why I Am/Am Not a Christian type debate series and us students in the audience could hardly get a word in during question time because the atheist academic philosophers (eg most of his departmental colleagues) had come along to pick highly technical holes in his arguments.

    Interview published in the student rag in 2000 has him making the following comment about his book Physical Causation: "It's written in impenetrable philosophical language. P***es me off, actually." Also talks about him using time-travel stuff in pop SF as example material in lectures, and playing electric guitar.
    The above excerpt was from my final essay for the very subject, Chance, Coincidence and Chaos. Also taking a subject this semester by him called Time Travel. Can attest to the SF material, he was referring to how Terminator was a consistent time travel story whereas T2 was not - one assignment I just did was a tv/film review of something with a sci-fi plot and to comment whether it was a consistent story.. I did mine on Red Dwarf

    Actually Kev, has your religious persuasion changed at all in the last few years? I didn't recall you being as far removed from God as you appear ot be now.
    "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
    - White Queen, Alice through the Looking-Glass

  12. #27
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Dickinson
    Actually Kev, has your religious persuasion changed at all in the last few years?
    No.

    I didn't recall you being as far removed from God as you appear ot be now.
    I probably come across as very agnostic sometimes because my politics when it comes to religion are very much a leave-me-alone-and-I'll-leave-your-religion-alone kind of view. Also I drift around a little bit, for instance over whether the simple little sentence "God exists." is meaningful and almost certainly false, meaningless and false, simply incomprehensible or just plain irrelevant.

  13. #28
    CC Grandmaster arosar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Dickinson
    The above excerpt was from my final essay for the very subject, Chance, Coincidence and Chaos. Also taking a subject this semester by him called Time Travel.
    What the hell's wrong with youse young people these days - gettin' yourselves roped in to these fancy gobbledegook? Listen mate, you gotta study stuff that'll help you get a job mate. Study accounting, economics, marketing, IT or any of them physical sciences. I mean all this you're studyin' mate sound like they're just comic book stuff.

    AR

  14. #29
    CC International Master Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arosar
    What the hell's wrong with youse young people these days - gettin' yourselves roped in to these fancy gobbledegook? Listen mate, you gotta study stuff that'll help you get a job mate. Study accounting, economics, marketing, IT or any of them physical sciences. I mean all this you're studyin' mate sound like they're just comic book stuff.

    AR
    Agreed AR. There is no logical argument that can ever be used to determine this kind of question, the question is entirely emotive. Either one has faith and one chooses to believe, or one can hold no view about the issue, or one finds no reason to believe, nor wants to believe. At the end of the day it comes down to choice, not reason. It as simple as that. Attempts to find logical arguemnt are entirely pretentious.
    Last edited by David_Richards; 24-08-2004 at 11:31 AM.
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  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by David_Richards
    At the end of the day it comes down to choice, not reason. It as simple as that. Attempts to find logical argument are entirely pretentious.
    Would that be involuntary choice or voluntary choice? As in the old saying
    "The Devil made me do it.", which would make it involuntary.
    Or is it in the genes?

    C

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