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LifeIsAbsurd last won the day on December 25 2010

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  1. Trebor, while your views make sense, they don't match those of Rand/Piekoff. According to Rand, it's false. She claims God does not exist. She also claims that the proof of that is simple. They're quite different. The Rand/Piekoff definition of 'possible' requires evidence. The mainstream definitions of 'possible' do not. Her hidden axiom seems to be that a(n arbitrary) claim with no evidence is impossible and false. According to Rand/Peikoff, that's not the case. A silly example of a claim: "Trebot is sending his messages from the International Space Station." According to the mainstream defintiion, that's possible (it could happen--astronauts have sent Internet messages from the space station before and we don't know your real name) but highly unlikely. We can only say for certain it's false if/when we encounter a contradiction, such as evidence you're currently Earthbound or not one of the astronauts on the crew manifest. According to the Rand/Peikoff definition, the claim's impossible and false simply because there's no evidence to support the claim. In logical circles there's a name for their logical fallacy--Argument Ad Absurdum. They're pretending to know the truth something, without actually having to take the time required to properly investigate it. At least we both agree it's irrational to believe you're actually sending messages from the space station.
  2. When you say possible, you mean it the way Peikoff defines it: Peikofff - X is possibleā€¯ means: in the present context of knowledge, there is some, but not much, evidence in favor of X and nothing known that contradicts X. When I say possible, I mean the way the rest of the world defines it: American Heritage - Capable of happening, existing, or being true without contradicting proven facts, laws, or circumstances. Webster - Capable of existing or occurring, or of being conceived or thought of; able to happen; capable of being done; not contrary to the nature of things; The reason Rand/Peikoff switched the meanings seems fairly obvious, it's to support their hidden axiom that if there's no evidence that "A is true" (arbitrary statement) then "A is false". Besides not seeming very logical, the non-objectivist books and lecture notes on logic that I've found call their line of reasoning Argument Ad Absurdum (Argument from Ignorance). Since we disagree on this fundamental logical point, further discussions seems pointless. I again thank everyone in this thread for their opinions and helping me to understand the Rand/Piekoff view of the world. I do plan to read her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemiology.
  3. Correct, it's highly unlikely and irrational to believe that God exists, that we'll meet aliens in the next ten years, and that machines will rebel and conquer us in the next fifty years. At the same time, these things are possible, they could be. Calling them "highly unlikely and irrational" is the truth. Calling them "false" is not. Highly unlikely and irrational. I'm confident I could convincingly argue Santa and the Easter Bunny do not exist. I already successfully proved the negative of two other things. That's an odd premise. Stating the truth shouldn't undermine the validity of logical argumentation. Thanks for taking the time to explain her perspective. I'm begin to suspect I'm an existentialist but not an objectivist, since I'm willing to pursue logic and truth even when it doesn't support my causese. I'll go ahead and read her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemiology anyway since I've enjoyed all the other books she's written. Perhaps that will change my mind. Perhaps not. Cheers.
  4. I'm surprised if a great thinker endorses what many books on logic classify as a logical fallacy. If I were to say, "Aliens will be found on Pluto within 5 years" with no evidence, you should tell me that's highly unlikely and it's irrational to believe so. You shouldn't say "Aliens won't be found on Pluto within 5 years." As far as I can tell, you would have no way of knowing that for certain. I fail to see how stating what we really know, "That's highly unlikely and it's irrational to believe so" lends credibility to the arbitrary "God exists" or "We live in the Matrix" or "Aliens will be found on Pluto within 5 years." I also fail to see how claiming something we do not really know is an improvement.
  5. If someone claimed "God exists" and you said, "That's irrational" or "Prove it or I don't believe you" that's normal and not what I opened this thread about. Ayn Rand made the claim "God does not exist." She also claimed it's easy to prove. In the general case proving a negative does not require omniscience nor omnipresence. If a pushy person looking for a donation claimed, "I know there's a quarter in your pants pocket." I could answer "Wouldn't you like to know?" (asserting he can't know or prove that) or I could pull out my pockets and show they're empty (proving the negative). If the police tomorrow called me and claimed I murdered someone at 9pm tonight in Madrid, Spain I would prove the negative by showing them recent receipts and naming a few witnesses who saw me tonight. In the special case of "God exists." I agree that's unfalsifiable. In that case, you could say it's irrational to say anything about his existance. That's distinct from claiming he does not exist. (Note: While theoretical unfalsifiability applies to "God exists", it doesn't apply to all specific Gods, especially ones who are claimed to have acted upon this world.) In the interview, I don't see Donahue saying "God exists" and Ayn Rand saying "That's an irrational belief" or "I don't believe you, prove it." I see Ayn Rand asserting "God does not exist" and further it's easy to prove. Maybe she wanted to sell more books.
  6. I have consistently stated the burden of proof is always on the person making the claim. You are the one making exceptions. "Prove you're not a murderer" claims nothing. It's a request for evidence with which the person may or may not comply. Correct. The claimant (of anything) must provide proof. This is where you go astray. "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" -- Carl Sagan It's a common misconception that people are found innocent. In fact, they are only found not guilty. Here's a quote from the Bar Association: "There is no verdict of innocent. And, not guilty does not mean innocent. When a jury returns a verdict of not guilty, that means that the state has not convinced the jury beyond a reasonable doubt as to all the elements of the crime with which the defendant has been charged." Lawyers get logic. A verdict of not guilty simply means YOU ARE A MURDER cannot be sufficiently proven. It does not mean YOU ARE NOT A MURDERER. Laymen get it too. If someone is accused of child molestation, even if they're found not guilty, neighbors are going to be wary about letting their kids near them. The philosophical burden of proof means only, "When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on him or her making a claim." Both the claims "God exists" and "God does not exist" require proof. Your strongest argument: if a fact is unfalsifiable, then it's irrational to say anything about it. In that case it's irrational to say "God exists" or to say "God doesn't exist." You're agreeing with me.
  7. Thanks, Swine. (How odd to say that without any malice!) It's an interesting book. I'm working through it. When he says atheist he simply means someone who doesn't says, "There is a God", as opposed to Ayn Rand, who says "There is no God and I can prove it." I'm not sure if the book will eventually try to rationalize a view as extreme as hers, but it's informative and entertaining in any event.
  8. I pointed to a flaw in his argument, and rather than address that you're attempting to associate me with faith. I assure you, I have no "faith" in an unproven God, nor in Ayn Rand. I define the words I use when there's ambiguity or confusion because if we can't understand each other there's little basis for communication. That's simple--ignore or investigate them, as you prefer. Do not claim to know more than you do.
  9. Precisely. The one who claims "God does not exist" or "Goed does exist" has the burden to prove their claim. I would say it's possible, but unlikely as there's no compelling evidence of their existance.
  10. The burden of proof lies on anyone who makes a claim or assertion, positive or negative. "This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." ~ Carl Sagan To clarify, to assert something is possible requires no evidence that it is true, only no proof that it is not true: Possible - Capable of happening, existing, or being true without contradicting proven facts, laws, or circumstances. Maybe - Perhaps; possibly. So, your methodology is to redefine the words possibly and maybe to mean plausible, and place the burden of proof on anyone making a positive claim as opposed to the usual anyone making a claim. That sounds like a practical way to live life day to day, but creates less descriptive statements about the universe and conflicts with normal word usage.
  11. The essential flaw in your argument against "God created the universe." is that you redefined universe in an unusual way without updating the initial claim. Universe means: American Heritage: "1.All matter and energy, including the earth, the galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space, regarded as a whole." Century Dictionary: "1.The totality of existing things; all that is in dynamical connection with general experience taken collectivelyā€”embracing the Creator and creation; or psychical and material objects, but excluding the Creator; or material objects only." Webster 1913 Dictionary: "1.All created things viewed as constituting one system or whole; the whole body of things, or of phenomena; the to~ pa^n of the Greeks, the mundus of the Latins; the world; creation." In the American Heritage's case, universe does not mean all existance. In the Century Dictionary case, universe means all existance except the Creator. In the Webster's case, universe means all created things. In all three of these cases the statement that "God created the universe" cannot be refuted by your proof. If you want to redefine 'universe' as 'the sum of all existants' then that is fine, but then the initial claim that you must refute becomes 'God created everything we can experience in the universe except itself."
  12. The dictionaries is full of definitions. The American Heritage is my usual choice. I chose definition #3, the first which fits most Gods that people tend to discuss, such as the Christian God or the god of the seas Poseidon: "A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality." As far as I can tell, no part of that definition conflicts with any of what you've written. I would also disagree with "One out of many". It's highly probably the being we just defined is non-existant and there's a slim possibility it's unique. Since we just defined God that doesn't apply.
  13. Hehe! I would point out the probability of there being a God is higher than the probability of there being a Flying Spaghetti Monster God. That's provable if we can agree the chance of each specific God existing is non-zero and hence the probability of any one of them existing must be higher than the probability of a specific one existing. But true, I grant it's not equally foolish although both cases still seem irrational.
  14. Thanks, I'll take a look. I've read Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and We The Living but haven't checked out her more formal philosophical works yet.
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