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The Dallas Examined Life Philosophy Group Message Board › Clarifications from 5/17 meetup

Clarifications from 5/17 meetup

user 3544427
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1
Yesterday we had a very long but interesting discusson about the philosophy of science. There were cases where we disputed the accuracy of facts and I just wanted to add some clarification:

1. Dark matter is not just a calculated phenonenon. It exibits effects of gravitaional lensing. In this effect the dark matter has a gravity field that can bend the path of light.
See: http://en.wikipedia.o...­

2. The monk who could create a rainbow by spraying water from his mouth in the basement of the church died in 1294 and his name was Roger Bacon... not Francis Bacon or Kevin Bacon :-).
see: http://en.wikipedia.o...­

3. The uncertainty principle states the uncertainty in measurement of position and momentum are related. The more we know about one the less we know about another. The math of signal processing has a similar rule called the time-bandwidth product. It states that the more bandwith we have the less time we need to observe the signal and vice-versa which is very similar.

Recall the analogy I gave listening to a recorded signal for varying amounts of time. The longer we listen to a pure signal the more percicesly we can measure it. The uncertainty principle governs how much information we can know about our reality and it is a well understood mathematical principle.
see: http://en.wikipedia.o...­

David V.
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 106
Note that gravitational lensing only applies to the mass of entire gravities. We know that galaxies have more mass than we can detect, but we don't know how to account for it. We've never detected dark matter itself. All we can say is "something exists to account for all that mass" - but we have no idea what. We might as well call dark matter particles DUNNOS - "dark undetectable nonvisible nondetectable objects somewhere"
Arlington, TX
Post #: 26
But many, perhaps most, scientific phenomena are not directly observable - they can only be inferred indirectly, especially at the subatomic and the cosmological levels. And multiple universes have no empirical evidence whatsoever, as far as I know.

That was a very interesting discussion last Thursday. David, you said something to the effect that the existence of God violates the laws of logic. I'm not sure I followed exactly what you were saying. If you could unpack that, I'd appreciate it.
A former member
Post #: 1
Note that gravitational lensing only applies to the mass of entire gravities. We know that galaxies have more mass than we can detect, but we don't know how to account for it. We've never detected dark matter itself. All we can say is "something exists to account for all that mass" - but we have no idea what. We might as well call dark matter particles DUNNOS - "dark undetectable nonvisible nondetectable objects somewhere"

Actually, the first proof of Einstein's theory that the gravitational warping of spacetime in the vicinity of massive bodies would cause refraction of light from more distant stars and galaxies was first proved true by Sir Arthur Eddington in 1919 while observing a solar eclipse using a relatively puny star--the sun--as the "massive" body. If the idea of "lensing" is seen as a subcategory of the more general term "refraction" then gravitational lensing doesn't require a body as massive as a galaxy. One could, if one had sufficiently sensitive instruments, detect "lensing" by observing the distortion of the light from distant stars as the moon passes in front of them.
David V.
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 107
Sorry, I was only referring to the lensing used as "evidence" of dark matter.

I'm going to reply to other issues brought up here when I have more time.
David V.
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 108
David, you said something to the effect that the existence of God violates the laws of logic. I'm not sure I followed exactly what you were saying. If you could unpack that, I'd appreciate it.

I made this assertion for two different arguments. The first was that the properties given to God violate the fundamental axioms. I explained this argument in a blog post a while back: http://www.rationalmi...­

The second was regarding the cosmological argument. I spent a few hours last night trying to write my response, and finally decided to turn it into a blog post. I posted it here: http://oneminute.rati...­

I had to cut out the following section from the last point due to length restrictions, but I think it addresses part of my argument:

The flaw in the epistemological process used to conclude that God is responsible for creation is evident when we compare it to the scientific method.

Here is how scientists have attempted to explain the origin of the big bang:
All known matter and energy expanded from a super dense singularity at a finite point in the past. The idea of the singularity is a mathematical model - scientists don't necessarily suggest that the pre-big bang universe was a singularity, but that Newtonian and Einsteinian physics break down at a certain point, and a new, currently unproven theory is necessary, such as string theory. Whether an external cause is necessary, as well as the nature of that cause if it is currently unknown, but there are several competing theories:

? Some physicists suggest that pairs of particles and anti-particles may be spontaneously come in and out of existence.
? In string theory, the big bang is the result of a collision between branes; and the cyclic model, a variant of the ekpyrotic model in which collisions occur periodically.
? Chaotic inflation theory suggests that inflation events start here and there in a random quantum-gravity foam, each leading to a bubble universe expanding from its own big bang.
? Penrose-Hawking singularity theorems do not represent the big bang as the beginning of time.

The purpose of bringing up these explanations is not to suggest that one or any of them is correct, but to compare the scientific epistemological method to the theistic one. Scientists examine the evidence, form hypotheses about possible explanations, and test their validity. Mystics note that some natural process is unexplained, and simply proclaim a supernatural (non-causal) dogma to explain it. Even when a scientific theory comes along to explain the unknown, they will often try to silence the author or deny the evidence, as with heliocentricism and evolution.
The difference between scientific theories and religious dogma is that science is falsifiable, whereas dogma is not. Can you prove that the universe created by a personal, Christian God, a Hindu deity, a computer hacker in another dimension, or the flying spaghetti monster?
Arlington, TX
Post #: 27
Wow. Where to begin? So how do you really feel about it? It's always so hard to get an opinion out of you :)But seriously, you raised some interesting points. I will be responding as soon as I pray for some inspiration from the flying spaghetti monster (How did you know about that???)
Dallas, TX
Post #: 2
Hi, I'm Joe Hinman. I am new on the list. This is a test just to see if I can post this. It seems you guys are having an interesting discussion I would like to try and answer David's arguments if i may?
Dallas, TX
Post #: 3
Here are my answers to the arguments David makes in the first link:

(1) God is arbitrary.

There is no evidence for a supernatural being with the properties generally ascribed to God. If someone makes an assertion for which there is no evidence either way, the logical thing to do is simply dismiss it, just as I would dismiss the assertion that there is an invisible pink elephant floating over me. If this were the only argument against God, I would not be able to prove that God did not exist ? but you would not be able to prove that he does exist either. Hence the claim must be thrown own as arbitrary.

Joe: (1) God is unique There is no other "being" like God. So the only evidence for "a supernatural being like God" is evidence for God itself.

(2) Thus, all God arguments, to the extent that they can be defended, are evidence for God. It seems, therefore, that this objection is merely begging the question since the existence of God is the thing under dispute. We cannot use the question being discussed as a proof against itself.

David: Comment: The reason there I say that is no evidence for God is NOT that I cannot see him. I have never seen Australia either, or my mind, or anger, or Neptune. The reason there is no evidence for God is that the characteristics ascribed to God contradict the rest of my knowledge about the world, and cannot be integrated with it (for example, I know of no intelligence that has no physical basis, or entity that spans the whole universe)

Joe: That merely assumes that your knowledge base is exhaustive. It is also begging the question since the one thing you might know of like that is the thing under dispute. You can't use the fact that you take the contrary side in the dispute to prove the lack of evidence for the side you argue against. Moreover, there are theories of consciousness that see consciousness not as a product of biological functions in a given organism alone but a basic property of nature. If that is the case it directly refutes the assertion that consciousness can't be separate from a biological organism.

link to my blog where I argue that this argument being made is a fallacy known as "black is white slide."­

(2) God has no identity.

Everything that exists in the universe has a particular nature, and only that nature. Things are what they are ? with certain properties that have certain characteristics. Every existing thing behaves in a certain way according to its nature. (Law of causality) More fundamentally, the whole notion of something existing means having a certain nature ? a particular, limited nature that is one thing and not another. Everything that exists, exists as such. In other words, non-contradiction.

Joe: at this point I want to observe that he seems to be linking "nature" with "identity." If that is the case I fail to see why God lacks a nature? The argument will turn upon what is meant by "identity." I'm sure God doesn't have finger prints or a library card but in what sense does God lack an identity?

David: Something cannot be two conflicting things at the same time, in the same place, and in the same respect. God is a contradictory concept ? he has no nature, no (finite) identity, and no particular causal connection to the rest of the universe.

Joe: I fail to see why identity must be finite? I fail to see why God lacks a causal connection to the universe? If God created the universe it would seem God would have a causal connection. It appears this argument is again proceeding from the assumption that there is not God, therefore there can't be a God. Or rather. "I don't believe in God, therefore, no evidence can count in favor of God."
Dallas, TX
Post #: 4
part 2

David: Thus, God is not only an arbitrary, but also a contradictory concept, and thus impossible. You cannot argue for a contradictory concept since the notions of proof, reason, or evidence rest on the validity of logic. (Because just like everything else in the universe, logic also has a particular nature. A is A.)

Joe: I don't see a contradiction. You present a couple of assumptions, not in evidence I might add, but that is a far cry from actually demonstrating a contradiction. What exactly makes God arbitrary? God is a priori that is not the same "arbitray."

David: If God has a particular identity, then at most, he must be an ancient, very powerful robot playing tricks with our fate. I don?t know any theists who would argue that God is a robot. Besides, if RoboGod has to play by the rules as we do, we can beat him.

Joe: Sorry I really don't see how this follows. First, why would having an identity mean that God is a robot? Why would it mean God is playing tricks? Secondly, what do you mean by "if he has to play by the rules we can beat him?" Beat him at what? why do you assume we are in an adversarial role to God?

(3) God is contradictory.

Many of the traits attributed to God are self-contradictory. For example, God is omnipotent, all good, and all knowing, yet evil exists.

Joe: (1) the term "omnipotent" is not found in the bible. It comes to us form the Greeks, it describes Arostotle's unmoved mover, not the God of the Bible.

(2) many modern theologians no longer use the term. Process theology, for example, directly asserts that God is not omnipotent. Alvin Plantinga (Notre Dame) uses "Maxmal greatness" as an alternative.

(3) Theodicy, the problem of evil, has a long body of work reflecting upon discussion, as does the free will defense. This concept answers the issue pretty well..

David: Also: God is everywhere and nowhere.

Joe: That's a metaphorical statement. But Quantum theory violates the sort of assumption you are making here. We do not know that something can't have a paradoxical relationship to the world because QM theory were certainly suggest this is possible. That's a matter of empirical fact not the laws of logic.

David: Also: God loves us and sends us to hell.

Joe: That is a theological assertion, it has nothing to do with the conception of God. I don't believe in hell and there lots of other believers in God who don't believe that either.

David: Also: We have free will, yet we are pre-destined. Also: immortal soul, yet we seem to be created from scratch at birth with no memories (making re-birth pointless) Also: God defines right and wrong, yet is able to change it (same as the making a stone to big to lift thing) Also: God is actually three gods, yet he is one. Also: Man is evil, yet he was saved, yet he really isn?t saved, yet God will probably forgive us anyway. Also: God act by miracles, yet he creates physical laws, so he needs none. Also: God is concerned about our fate, yet he already knows exactly what will happen. Also: Man is in God?s image, yet he is sinful. Also: Religion is supposed to make one happy on earth, yet earthy life is about suffering and sin. Also: God wrote the sole, absolute, and unchanging source of morality, yet his Book is full of contradictions, and things you?d probably say he?d oppose today (such as stoning for adultery). Also: Pride is evil for man in heaven, yet good for man on earth. I could probably think of a few dozen more contradictions, but you get the idea. God isn?t even consistent with himself. Let?s not forget: One should have blind faith in God, yet you are about to attempt to use reason to prove me wrong.

Joe: all of these are theological commentary. They are matters of doctrine not matters of the concept of God.

before I proceed I must know if it is cool at this point to present my own God arguments? I would like to know because I feel the cosmological argument presented in the second link is a flawed version and I want to present my own version.
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