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Old 10-28-2018, 06:55 PM   #101
Original Position
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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Originally Posted by David Sklansky View Post
If you had been around this forum several years ago you would have found many people claiming that it was more rational to think God was a favorite than an underdog. (Actually its kind of necessary that they think that because if they don't think that it means that those who don't believe would not be justifieg to be punished.)
Here are a few claims I think many would find reasonable:

1) Humans typically act in their individual self-interest.
2) It is often in our individual self-interest to defect from various social norms from which nearly everyone benefits.

One potential solution to this problem is to claim:

3) Defections from pro-social norms are seen by God and you are punished for them after you die.

If (3) became widely believed, we would be able to avoid many of the prisoner-dilemma type situations and collective action problems that lead to (2) because the calculation of our own self-interest given other people's belief in (3) would change because of their more credible promise to not defect. Furthermore, since (3) is almost completely unfalsifiable and the terms so flexible, it is relatively stable over time and has little real implication on our more important empirical beliefs. Thus, given the social benefits and relatively small cost that comes from accepting (3), regardless of whether it is actually true, it is rational to encourage others to believe (3).
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:14 PM   #102
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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Of course I don't think that when a small probability event eventually happens it cannot be evidence for something else. If you're talking about the storm that sank a few ships then it's just very poor evidence and tells absolutely nothing. It's just noise.
Hi Kelvin:

The requirement of my conjecture is more than an extremely small probability event. It also needs to produce a lot of good, and that can be debatable. So a storm in 1814 that damages the British Army is not enough to possibly qualify. You have to also add in saving the United States (if you think this is something good for the future of mankind).

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 10-31-2018, 01:49 AM   #103
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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Here are a few claims I think many would find reasonable:

1) Humans typically act in their individual self-interest.
2) It is often in our individual self-interest to defect from various social norms from which nearly everyone benefits.

One potential solution to this problem is to claim:

3) Defections from pro-social norms are seen by God and you are punished for them after you die.

If (3) became widely believed, we would be able to avoid many of the prisoner-dilemma type situations and collective action problems that lead to (2) because the calculation of our own self-interest given other people's belief in (3) would change because of their more credible promise to not defect. Furthermore, since (3) is almost completely unfalsifiable and the terms so flexible, it is relatively stable over time and has little real implication on our more important empirical beliefs. Thus, given the social benefits and relatively small cost that comes from accepting (3), regardless of whether it is actually true, it is rational to encourage others to believe (3).

If your last word was "assume" rather than "believe" you would be right. Not otherwise.
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Old 11-01-2018, 01:04 PM   #104
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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Like yeah, that one time highly improbable event happened, but there are a lot of events that happen that are very low frequency. It's just numbers, if there are 10^20 things can happen with very low probability and some of them happen, that is expected. I myself witnessed a 10^-8 event in a board game throwing dice, but when there are so many events of low probability can happen that doesn't mean jack.

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All-or-nothing fallacy.
Aaron, I think you're attacking an uncharitable interpretation of Kelvis, but even if that's not the case, don't you think your objection applies more to Mason's argument than to Kevis's rebuttal? If not moreso, do you think it applies equally to Mason?

Edit: I shouldn't say you're being uncharitable, but that I interpreted what he said differently. In fact, when I first read your post I thought you were summing up his paragraph in a few words.

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Old 11-01-2018, 07:36 PM   #105
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

I started reading the King James Bible, the 1st 20 pages are so boring, just rambling about how old and how long Adam and his family lived, they got pretty old back then. Still unsure if God actually forgave Adam and Eve, as in the KJ version, he says that he won't smite them anymore, or something like that.

So I am confused who came up with we are all sinners and are being punished because of A&E sins.

Anyway

What is proof actually, when will you be satisfied that God exists or not. I heard Neil Degrasse Tyson comment that in science eye witness is the weakest form of evidence/proof. So what about experience or feeling, or perhaps a combination? God has the power to show you, make you feel his presence, see him, hear him, experience him, his divinity. Surely people have been touched like this and that's why they believe in a particular religion.

I can get on board with that, because it's something you can't explain, it's so so powerful, so out of this world, so beautiful, so magnificent, no words can do it justice, you can't explain the supernatural feeling, the experience, so would that constitute as proof or evidence, for yourself probably, but what about for an Atheist or a scientist? So scientists need to create a machine to measure the phenomenon, how else can they prove God, exactly?

So for everybody who has not had that divine interaction, I guess we carry on waiting, from my understanding if you ask then eventually you'll be heard? Or can 1 go a lifetime without any confirmation, without any kind of hello from God?

At 1 point the whole world was religious, it was normal, natural, but I wonder how many have had a proper encounter with God. More and more people do not believe, I can't imagine that those people actually had a religious moment with God but decided to lie to themselves.

Does anybody feel like they should be believing without such an encounter, without confirmation? How many religious people actually believe without any kind of encounter.

If God truly wanted you to know, wouldn't he be touching your very soul, wouldn't he be so divine that you would know, not have a hunch, could be Alien or must be the weed or beer, no no no, so strong, so divine, so wonderful, so clean, so powerful, so so so powerful that you just know 100% certain, this is God!

What is stopping him from showing us his divinity? What is stopping him from showing us the way, the world is in shambles right now, there's no denying that we could use some guidance, so why does he not show us?
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Old 11-02-2018, 01:02 AM   #106
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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Aaron, I think you're attacking an uncharitable interpretation of Kelvis, but even if that's not the case, don't you think your objection applies more to Mason's argument than to Kevis's rebuttal? If not moreso, do you think it applies equally to Mason?

Edit: I shouldn't say you're being uncharitable, but that I interpreted what he said differently. In fact, when I first read your post I thought you were summing up his paragraph in a few words.
I don't think it applies to Mason's argument because he's not making an all-or-nothing type of claim. He did not categorize all events as evidence for God, nor did he deny that all events are evidence for God. And that was the fundamental issue with Kelvis' presentation. "There are lots of events, so we should expect low probability events to happen, and so that explains everything."

There may be other problems with Mason's argument, such as the inability to determine one way or the other with any sense of confidence (ie, how *does* one determine whether it's coincidence or planned?). But he acknowledges the speculative nature of this form of evidence, so there's no real reason to lean on that point since it was already conceded.
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Old 11-02-2018, 02:26 AM   #107
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I don't think it applies to Mason's argument because he's not making an all-or-nothing type of claim.
I don't understand how the probability of "2+2=4" being true is anything other than 0 or 1. Why would it be any different with God's existence?

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Old 11-02-2018, 11:19 AM   #108
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I don't understand how the probability of "2+2=4" being true is anything other than 0 or 1. Why would it be any different with God's existence?
First, I think you've misunderstood the objection. The "all-or-nothing" fallacy is regarding categorizational schema, not reality per se. The claim being made is attempting to label information as being evidence for or not evidence for something. These are subjective conclusions based a lot (almost entirely?) on the assumptions going into the conversation.

Second, whether "2+2=4" depends on your understanding and interpretation of the symbols. For example, I can totally understand that 2+2=11 or 2+2=0 (and be fully justified mathematically in my interpretation of that claim). In that sense, it can be *BOTH* 0 and 1 as we shift from context to context.

Third, reality is what it is. From an omniscient point of view (where omniscience means something like "knows the truth value of all statements that have a definite truth value"), there are no subjective confidence levels with regards to knowledge. But we don't have such a perspective, and so we are limited by our subjective interpretation when we talk about what we think is true or false about reality.
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:31 AM   #109
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

John just don't argue with him. Not worth the time.
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Old 11-02-2018, 01:29 PM   #110
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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First, I think you've misunderstood the objection. The "all-or-nothing" fallacy is regarding categorizational schema, not reality per se. The claim being made is attempting to label information as being evidence for or not evidence for something. These are subjective conclusions based a lot (almost entirely?) on the assumptions going into the conversation.

Second, whether "2+2=4" depends on your understanding and interpretation of the symbols. For example, I can totally understand that 2+2=11 or 2+2=0 (and be fully justified mathematically in my interpretation of that claim). In that sense, it can be *BOTH* 0 and 1 as we shift from context to context.

Third, reality is what it is. From an omniscient point of view (where omniscience means something like "knows the truth value of all statements that have a definite truth value"), there are no subjective confidence levels with regards to knowledge. But we don't have such a perspective, and so we are limited by our subjective interpretation when we talk about what we think is true or false about reality.
I understand the distinction. What I don’t understand is how the introduction of empirical evidence allows the leap from 0 or 1 to somewhere between 0 and 1. For example, does running a bunch of trials adding 2 apples to 2 apples make it more probable that “2+2=4” is true? Or if we poll a number of self-identified bachelors and none of them say they are married, does that make it more probable that there are no married bachelors? So I don’t see how the presence of a Bible (or a storm) makes the existence of God more probable. To me that’s no different than saying the presence of evil makes God less probable.
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Old 11-02-2018, 03:46 PM   #111
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I understand the distinction. What I don’t understand is how the introduction of empirical evidence allows the leap from 0 or 1 to somewhere between 0 and 1. For example, does running a bunch of trials adding 2 apples to 2 apples make it more probable that “2+2=4” is true? Or if we poll a number of self-identified bachelors and none of them say they are married, does that make it more probable that there are no married bachelors?
I'm not sure that you do. I think that structuring your understanding around a purely deductive result on the basis of definitions is causing you confusion.

Let's say have two coins. One has heads on both sides and the other is a fair coin. We take one of them at random, flip it once, and get a head. From an omniscient perspective, it is either true that we have the two-headed coin or it's true that we have the fair coin. But we don't have that knowledge. We only have that we flipped one head in one flip. It turns out that from the non-omniscient perspective there is a 2/3 chance that we have the two-headed coin.

So in this sense, it is completely logical and possible for there to be a difference in our ability to discern reality based on the information available and that there can be a probabilistic sense of our understanding of knowledge.

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So I don’t see how the presence of a Bible (or a storm) makes the existence of God more probable. To me that’s no different than saying the presence of evil makes God less probable.
It's fine that it makes no difference to you. I'm not going to be so blind as to assert that you "must" change your beliefs one way or another based on highly subjective interpretations of information.

But if you think that your sense of knowledge is absolutely either-or, then you have deeper problems in your epistemology and you're being both illogical and unreasonable.
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Old 11-02-2018, 06:49 PM   #112
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I don't understand how the probability of "2+2=4" being true is anything other than 0 or 1. Why would it be any different with God's existence?


http://factmyth.com/factoids/bayes-t...robable-truth/
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:26 PM   #113
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I don't understand how the probability of "2+2=4" being true is anything other than 0 or 1. Why would it be any different with God's existence?
Mason's claim wasn't "God exists," or "God does not exist." His claim was "Event X is good evidence of God's existence." As Aaron said (and I think Kelvis was going there, too), there is a lot of subjectivity in how we examine event X; it isn't as simple as 2+2=4.
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Old 11-02-2018, 10:47 PM   #114
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I don't think it applies to Mason's argument because he's not making an all-or-nothing type of claim. He did not categorize all events as evidence for God, nor did he deny that all events are evidence for God. And that was the fundamental issue with Kelvis' presentation. "There are lots of events, so we should expect low probability events to happen, and so that explains everything."
Well, technically I didn't think either argument was strictly guilty of an all-or-nothing claim.

But whatever you want to call it, I don't think you're addressing what Kelvis was really getting at. I don't think your quote of him, above, is an accurate paraphrase of his position. I'd say it was closer to "There are lots of events, and we frequently see low-probability events, and so they are insufficient as evidence of supernatural things.[/B]." "That doesn't mean jack" seems like very typical Internet bombast, not a formal claim.

Look at your quote from him earlier:
Quote:
Like yeah, that one time highly improbable event happened, but there are a lot of events that happen that are very low frequency. It's just numbers, if there are 10^20 things can happen with very low probability and some of them happen, that is expected. I myself witnessed a 10^-8 event in a board game throwing dice, but when there are so many events of low probability can happen that doesn't mean jack.
What part of that do you disagree with? Anything besides the last four words?
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Old 11-02-2018, 11:19 PM   #115
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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The requirement of my conjecture is more than an extremely small probability event. It also needs to produce a lot of good, and that can be debatable. So a storm in 1814 that damages the British Army is not enough to possibly qualify. You have to also add in saving the United States (if you think this is something good for the future of mankind).
The bolded is why I don't think it is at all good evidence.

Firstly, saying only events which produce a lot of good qualify ends up being far too convenient. Looking at only "rare" hurricanes, they can either:
A) Produce "good" results.
B) Produce neutral results.
C) Produce "bad" results.

Ignoring the massive subjectivity of saying the world is better off because of this hurricane--which requires making a gajillion assumptions about how the world 'would have turned out,' along with assuming everyone shares the same values and so would call this outcome "good"--you seem to have set up the scenario so that it can only be neutral or positive for your interpretation of God.

A) If the outcome is good, your believer wants it to be considered as pretty convincing evidence of God. (I know you said "possibly" but if that's really the extent of your claim then it becomes pretty worthless. I could say every time I blink my eyes it's evidence that God does/not exist if I'm allowed to tack on a bunch of if...then...possiblies to it.)

B) If the outcome is neutral, your believer doesn't want it to be evidence either way.

C) If the outcome is bad, your believer doesn't want it to be evidence either way.

So it seems a bit too advantageous to set up this non-falsifiable test. I think the obvious rebuttal, which is what Kelvis was getting at, is that if we're going to say (A) is good evidence for a specific conception of God, then we should take (C) as good evidence against this same conception. All three scenarios make sense if God doesn't exist, but it's difficult to get (C) to make sense with your "good-loving" God unless you start re-defining God to ridiculous lengths, and you just end up with Sagan's purple dinosaur.

Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but it seems this ends up describing a God who likes "good" but doesn't dislike "bad," which then doesn't seem to be the Judeo-Christian God, so who is making the argument?
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Old 11-03-2018, 12:20 AM   #116
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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Mason's claim wasn't "God exists," or "God does not exist." His claim was "Event X is good evidence of God's existence." As Aaron said (and I think Kelvis was going there, too), there is a lot of subjectivity in how we examine event X; it isn't as simple as 2+2=4.
I get that X isn’t, but God’s existence is as simple as that based on the common conception of God as a necessary being:

“God exists” is either (t) a tautology or (c) a contradiction.

P(t) = 1, for any tautology t.
P(c) = 0, for any contradiction c.
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Old 11-03-2018, 01:16 AM   #117
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I get that X isn’t, but God’s existence is as simple as that based on the common conception of God as a necessary being:

“God exists” is either (t) a tautology or (c) a contradiction.

P(t) = 1, for any tautology t.
P(c) = 0, for any contradiction c.
OK. So you are saying that if there were 1000 independent universes they would either all have a god or none have a god and that you can prove that statement with logic.

But you can't.
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Old 11-03-2018, 01:19 AM   #118
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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Well, technically I didn't think either argument was strictly guilty of an all-or-nothing claim.
Okay.

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But whatever you want to call it, I don't think you're addressing what Kelvis was really getting at. I don't think your quote of him, above, is an accurate paraphrase of his position. I'd say it was closer to "There are lots of events, and we frequently see low-probability events, and so they are insufficient as evidence of supernatural things.[/B]." "That doesn't mean jack" seems like very typical Internet bombast, not a formal claim.
Bombast or not, the underlying argument is weak and I would argue that it actually fails. Also, reclassifying the argument as "evidence of supernatural things" as opposed to merely "evidence of things" hints at the type of bias you are applying to the statement. Much in the way this thread started with the claim of "actual evidence" as a way to disqualify evidence, you're using "supernatural" to attempt to make a secondary category of "things" that necessarily has some sort of structure that requires a different set of rules of evidence. I find such weasel words to be revealing.

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What part of that do you disagree with? Anything besides the last four words?
The basic structure of the argument fails. Made up numbers and hand waving don't make for a good argument.

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Like yeah, that one time highly improbable event happened, but there are a lot of events that happen that are very low frequency.
Observation of low probability event X is explained by unrelated low probability event Y. (No, it isn't.)

Quote:
It's just numbers, if there are 10^20 things can happen with very low probability and some of them happen, that is expected.
Here are some arbitrary numbers that were made up. They assert that probability explains the existence of the event. (But in reality, this means nothing.)

Quote:
I myself witnessed a 10^-8 event in a board game throwing dice, but when there are so many events of low probability can happen that doesn't mean jack.
Observation of low probability event Z explains why low probability event X is the result of chance. (No, it doesn't.)

None of this actually flies as an argument. The base assertion (if there is a sufficiently large number of events, then low probability events are expected to be observed) is valid. But that is simply insufficient to make a claim about any particular event. In the abstract, one cannot possibly distinguish whether an event is the result of chance or intention.

If you follow the reasoning to its logical end, you find that ALL events are merely the result of chance because even those low probability events are expected to be observed because the number of observations is astronomically large. Hence, all-or-nothing fallacy.
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Old 11-03-2018, 02:25 AM   #119
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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OK. So you are saying that if there were 1000 independent universes they would either all have a god or none have a god and that you can prove that statement with logic.

But you can't.
“A being that must exist exists” is a tautology.
“A being that must exist doesn’t exist” is a contradiction.
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Old 11-03-2018, 06:23 AM   #120
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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“A being that must exist exists” is a tautology.
you are missing out a step in your logic

a) There is a being that must exist

you would have to show (a) before you can move on to your tautology and contradiction
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:03 AM   #121
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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... reclassifying the argument as "evidence of supernatural things" as opposed to merely "evidence of things" hints at the type of bias you are applying to the statement... you're using "supernatural" to attempt to make a secondary category of "things" that necessarily has some sort of structure that requires a different set of rules of evidence. I find such weasel words to be revealing.
Don't tell me what my motives are. To the contrary, I was trying to be charitable. Most theists would say it's unfair to demand direct physical evidence of a non-physical being. Acknowledging that we're talking about a supernatural being accepts the indirect nature of Mason's evidence. I was looking for a better way to end the sentence, since yours ("explains everything") seems obviously wrong. Mason is free to chime in and tell us if he thinks offering potential evidence of "supernatural things" is a misleading characterization of his initial post. And of course Kelvis can also let me know if I've paraphrased him wrong.

Or better yet, rather than go down a rabbit hole debating whether "supernatural thing" was being considerate of theistic arguments or "weasely," we can just drop the phrase. Perhaps "There are lots of events, and we frequently see low-probability events, and so they are insufficient as evidence," would be better. Or "... insufficient to support Mason's argument."

Quote:
Observation of low probability event X is explained by unrelated low probability event Y. (No, it isn't.)... Here are some arbitrary numbers that were made up. They assert that probability explains the existence of the event. (But in reality, this means nothing.)... Observation of low probability event Z explains why low probability event X is the result of chance. (No, it doesn't.)
These point-by-point objections seem to hinge on him claiming that probability "explains" X. But that isn't what he says. Looking at the context of his comments, he seems to be saying probability COULD explain X, so why should we think it was intentional?

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If you follow the reasoning to its logical end, you find that ALL events are merely the result of chance because even those low probability events are expected to be observed because the number of observations is astronomically large. Hence, all-or-nothing fallacy.
If you follow the reasoning to its logical end, you find that all events COULD BE merely the result of chance, which leads to "why should I think they're not?"
Mason touched on a potential answer to that question when he said 'if we identify enough of these types of rare+good events, that might be decent evidence for [a very specific kind of] God.'
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:53 AM   #122
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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you are missing out a step in your logic

a) There is a being that must exist

you would have to show (a) before you can move on to your tautology and contradiction
“A bachelor is an unmarried man” is a tautology.

Do I need to show (a) There is a bachelor?

That I don’t so it wouldn’t matter anyway if I do is basically my point with all this.
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Old 11-03-2018, 02:18 PM   #123
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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If you follow the reasoning to its logical end, you find that all events COULD BE merely the result of chance, which leads to "why should I think they're not?"
I do not believe the words lead to that question. Especially when followed with the absolute affirmative claim that we are measuring "noise" I think my understanding of his argument is wholly accurate. I do think he is using the existence of low probability events when there are a large number of observations as the explanation for why we would "expect" to see low probability events. I assert that "Why should I think otherwise?" goes beyond what was written. The is no question in the presentation. It's an affirmative argument in favor of an explanation for the evidence that was presented.

To turn this around: "If you follow the reasoning to its logical end, you find that all events COULD BE an act of God, which leads to "Why should I think they're not?"

It's a poorly structured argument, even with the conclusion you've tried to put on it.
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:55 PM   #124
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Re: Is there any proof of God?

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I assert that "Why should I think otherwise?" goes beyond what was written.
Yeah, that's probably true. Retracted.
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Old 11-03-2018, 10:58 PM   #125
Aaron W.
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 29,369
Re: Is there any proof of God?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John21 View Post
“A bachelor is an unmarried man” is a tautology.

Do I need to show (a) There is a bachelor?
It depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Claiming a conclusion by definition doesn't claim anything about reality. You can read about this by reading about the distinction between analytic and synthetic truths.

Quote:
That I don’t so it wouldn’t matter anyway if I do is basically my point with all this.
That you don't write sentences that can be parsed easily anyway if you do your point is what exactly?
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