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Prove that god doesn't exist. (Proving a negative)

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Interesting. I'd like to take a look at your work. What are some of your publications?

Sure. But since you appear to be incapable of understanding a simple post on a message board, I don’t expect that you’ll be able to understand a higher level article (and one with so many pages!) in an anthology of articles on grammar and linguistics. Besides, I hate to see you spend your hard-earned money on yet another book that you won’t read.

I see, so does that mean that when you said "from the standpoint of propositional logic, it makes no difference how we phrase something grammatically", you were lying, you hadn't thought about what you wrote, you made an error -- or have we learned that 'no difference' means 'some difference'? Just curious.

No. It just means that when writing for twits, I normally don’t see the need to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. Obviously, you’re a high-functioning, fastidious twit, so I shall certainly keep that in mind.

Yup, those are other examples -- sorry that I mistook you for a foreigner.

Quite all right. I pegged you for a native-speaking Objectivist right away.

It's not unusual for high-functioning non-native speakers of English to be mistaken about the kinds of complementizers a verb takes, and since prove, clarify etc do take that-complements, it's not an unusual form of rationalism for them to make the error of analogizing disprove, obscure and think that then take that-clauses rather than NP-that clauses.

Well, lookie that! You talk the talk! Almost as if you're an academic linguist! Unfortunately for you and your non-argument, grammatical is as grammatical does. Since people in fact use “that complements” with both “prove” and “disprove” (as well as with "like" and "dislike") that, by definition, makes the construction grammatical. Never heard “obscure” used that way, though. Would you source that for me? Thanks!

Perhaps, but ungrammatical is ungrammatical.

True. And legalistic is legalistic. Now that you’ve established yet again that A is A, and I’ve established yet again that no solecism has occurred, what, pray tell, is your point, and what, except your arbitrary whim, establishes that a solecism has occurred?

Legally speaking, it is also wrong.

I knew there was an assertion somewhere in your argument!

You grant that supposed god is everywhere all at once (ominipresent, ubiquitous)

So far, so good.

but then deny that this means "without limit".

Splendid.

Your argument is based on the trivial straw argument that "everywhere" doesn't mean "without limit".

I admire your question-begging; please count me as one of your warmest detractors. Whether or not the undisputed FACT that “everywhere” does not mean “without limit” is trivial is what’s at issue. Since you admit that “everywhere” does not mean “without limit”, I think any intellectually honest person would find that to be relevant – especially since Seeker’s claim of self-contradiction turns on it.

That would be relevant if he had claimed that everywhere means without limit, but I don't find that claim anywhere except in your argument.

(Ahem)

“By contrast, the JudeoChristian god is supposedly omniscient, omnipotent, and everywhere all at once, i.e. is without limit…” [posted by Seeker]

Try reading the post.

Being everywhere means being everywhere without limit. That is what everywhere means -- no limits on the where.

Not so. It means no limits on the “every.” I suggest you do the unthinkable: get a dictionary and look the word up. There’s no mention of “without limit.”

Your next argument also falls apart but might be resurrected by a bit of leglism on your part -- "Gravity is ubiquitous and has an identity". Gravity depends on entities,

Gravity depends on space. Whether or not gravity exists apart from matter has yet to be proven. Gravity waves have been detected and String Theory makes use of gravity quanta.

since it is a relationship between two things. Gravity is not an independent entity.

This is true only in Objectivist textbooks on physics (and we all know what bestsellers they are). I don’t know of any working, publishing physicist who has made that claim. You don’t mind sourcing that, do you? Thanks!

Outside of the imaginary bounding box that encloses all entities in the universe,

I’m glad that lack of factual knowledge doesn’t restrain you from making breezy generalizations. I’m fascinated with your certainty about things for which you have zero evidence. An “imaginary” bounding box? Do tell us how you know it’s imaginary?

there are no entities (that should be self-evident), and therefore no gravitational force. Thus the extent of the gravitational forms is finite and limited

(Applause! Encore! Bravo! Bis! Bis!) This reminds me of arguments from knee-jerk Darwinian evolutionists about the putative “proto-life” forms that “surely must have existed” in some “warm little pond” billions of years ago. Whether billions of years ago on Earth, or billions of light-years away from Earth, I guess anything goes – any “just so” story will do – if one isn’t constrained by facts and is merely interested in ways to prop up a philosophy.

In case you were wondering, I enjoyed your little story very much.

Your claim that modern physics dismisses sensory evidence as either irrelevant or at best misleading is false, unsupported, irrelevant and at best misleading. It is well known that physicists depend each day on sensory evidence to support their conjectures about the universe. Modern physics does not, as you wrongly assert, intentionally construct models at variance with sensory evidence, in fact that is a scientifically meaningless claim -- a scientific model can't be at variance with a fact.

Then you have a quaint naïve-realist view of scientific models. Nothing wrong with that except that such a view was dropped in the 19th century and we are now in the 21st. As I’ve already explained in an earlier post, scientific models are constructed all the time at variance with observed fact. In fact, that’s the essence of most scientific models (the interesting ones, at any rate).

It is not true that a Karl Popper wrote that science proceeds by proving that certain phenomena that the current hypothesis lead you to expect to occur cannot occur.

He says so, both in Logic of Scientific Discovery and Conjectures and Refutations. You haven’t read enough Popper. (You’ve probably only read some sort of summary of his ideas written by various Objectivists – no wonder you’re wrong.)

In fact, you might read it again and see that this is close to the opposite of what he claims.

Sure. I have his books right in front of me. Why don’t you tell me which book, specifically, to “read again.” (Chapter titles would be helpful, too, since you appear extremely well acquainted with his work.)

His position is that one can only proved a specific instantiation to be false, so if your model predicts a certain particle at a certain time and place, and the particle is not observed, then the prediction is false. Popperian epistemology hold that one can only know that a singular statement is true or false, and it would be forbidden metaphysics to conclude that a phenomenon cannot occur. Of course he is wrong, but that's another matter.

Alas, that isn’t what he says, and he rarely mentions metaphysics. He makes the perfectly legitimate claim that we can never prove that “All X is Y” from individual experiments. There is, in fact, no such thing as inductive logic; only deductive. (Older logicians, such as Richard Whately, viewed induction as a species of argument-from-analogy and properly placed it in the field of rhetoric, not logic. I have Whately’s treatises on logic and rhetoric, too, so you are certainly welcome to tell me which chapter to “read again” to prove that I’m wrong.) Popper claims that we can hypothesize that “All X is Y” because – as you have already shown us in your arguments above – there’s no limit to what we can imagine and fantasize about; and we can then test this hypothesis by means of experiments that attempt to refute it. We only need to find a single instance in which X is not Y to question, amend, or discard the hypothesis. Furthermore, he claims that knowledge progresses when new models not only make predictions of phenomena otherwise unknown to the earlier model, but also when they demonstrate that certain phenomena predicted by the older model (predicted but not yet observed) will NOT occur.

Falsification is thus the gravamen of demarcation, dividing “scientific truths” from “non-scientific truths.” This in no way invalidates those other truths; it means simply that they are not derived scientifically (in contradistinction to Popper’s early colleagues from the Vienna Circle who believed that truths were either scientific or they simply were not truths at all).

Of course, Popper is correct, but that’s another matter for another forum.

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When we look at a pencil appearing bent in water, our "model" says the pencil is straight. I think you're implying that our sense say that the pencil is bent. I think this is the sense -- at a simple level -- in which you imply the models are contradictory to the senses.

Not exactly. The examples I gave from cosmology were more to the point. Newtonian physics claims that there’s an invisible force (at variance with the senses) stretching out from the center of point masses (also at variance with the senses). It also claimed, contrary to all earthly experiments and experience in his day, that an object, if nudged, will continue in motion in a straight line forever unless nudged again. He was right about the last but boy! was it ever a LUCKY GUESS! He had zero evidence for it. He assumed it was true in contradiction to all observation.

Furthermore, prior to Newton, Galileo made a surprising assertion. He claimed that entities had two classes of properties: primary qualities and secondary qualities. The primary qualities were things like weight and spatial extension; the secondary, things like color, texture, smell, etc. He claimed that the secondary qualities are not really qualities of the thing itself but are in the human mind. This was a wholly new way of approaching the study of phenomena, and one which was very much at variance with observation. Color, for example, clearly appears to be a property of a thing. He was quite right about color: whatever the correlation with frequency, “blue” qua “blue” is a subjective experience that exists only within the mind. He was wrong, however, about weight. Newton taught us to think differently about what we normally experience as weight. He taught us to think about weight as the interaction of an invisible force (never perceived or experienced before) called “gravity” (a word that he used metaphorically, since in his day “gravitas” did not mean literally what Newton intended it to mean) and an invisible property of an object called “mass” (also never perceived or experienced before).

That’s more of what I had in mind. As for the disjointed spoon, the experience of feeling the spoon while it was half submerged could pretty much teach even the most naïve savage that his eyes should not be trusted in this matter.

As for the argument that the senses “do not lie, they merely give the full context of the data” no one said anything about lying. The issue (in the case of the spoon example) is whether sight can be relied upon or trusted irrespective of whether it is telling you a lie or the truth. That the eyes “tell the truth” is not enough reason to trust them.

If you meet a classy babe at a bar and ask for her name and number and for a reply she merely hands you a telephone directory, we could say that she is not lying; she is giving you the "full context of the information" needed to get her name and number. But what good is it? None.

Telephone directories are not to be trusted (neither are classy babes at bars).

However, the fact is that they are not contradictory. Our senses sense what they sense correctly: it is not an illusion. They sense something very real. Senses, however, do not provide knowledge. In other words, the senses do not tell us whether the pencil is bent or straight in the first place, not in any truly valid way. There is no variance at all; the model "interprets" what we sense. A consistent model does so without contradiction.

As far as "the mind influences perception", what of it? Did anybody say that the human mind is infallible? Let's simply take for granted that human beings can make mistakes:

See my above example of Newton and Galileo. I’m not speaking of hallucinations. I’m claiming that by the time a percept reaches the brain for further processing, it has already undergone lots of thinking – non-conscious thinking.

they can misinterpret their senses, and they can be influenced by all sorts of things. So what of it? It does not follow that seeking knowledge is in vain. It does not follow that knowledge is unattainable. Even if we will always probably be making some mistakes, it does not imply that everything we know is a big mistake.

Never claimed that.

I don't see what all this has to do with God though.

Well, we were talking about proving a negative. That took us from grammar to propositional logic to philosophy of science to history of science to cosmology. I agree that we could use a bit of a course correction here.

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Interesting. I'd like to take a look at your work. What are some of your publications?

Sure. But since you appear to be incapable of understanding a simple post on a message board, I don’t expect that you’ll be able to understand a higher level article (and one with so many pages!) in an anthology of articles on grammar and linguistics. Besides, I hate to see you spend your hard-earned money on yet another book that you won’t read.

I think a lot of us would be interested in reading your material, Mr. Enthymeme. We would really appreciate a link or a list of your publications.

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Sure. But since you appear to be incapable of understanding a simple post on a message board, I don’t expect that you’ll be able to understand a higher level article (and one with so many pages!) in an anthology of articles on grammar and linguistics. Besides, I hate to see you spend your hard-earned money on yet another book that you won’t read.
Don't worry, I have access to a decent library, in case I don't already have the book. So give me a reference to some of your highly technical publications, assuming you do have any.
It just means that when writing for twits, I normally don’t see the need to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s.
Are you saying that the participants on this board are twits, or just Seeker? (Well, you also put me in the class of twits, so I mean, who else). I find that people who feel no need to be clear do so because they don't understand the subject matter or have not thought there position through. Often both!
Unfortunately for you and your non-argument, grammatical is as grammatical does. Since people in fact use “that complements” with both “prove” and “disprove” (as well as with "like" and "dislike") that, by definition, makes the construction grammatical.
Hm... well, there may be ignorant and illiterate people out there who actually use that constructions, but as a native speaker of standard English I can tell you that it's not generated by my grammar. But that's not important, really. What matters is whether you have anything of substance to contribute here. I was looking for something, but can't find it. For example, your silly statement about how it doesn't make any difference how we say things -- no doubt reflecting your discovery that words have no meaning -- is not a contribution to the discussion of why god is a contradictory concept. Rather, it is an irrelevant smokescreen.
That would be relevant if he had claimed that everywhere means without limit, but I don't find that claim anywhere except in your argument.

(Ahem)

“By contrast, the JudeoChristian god is supposedly omniscient, omnipotent, and everywhere all at once, i.e. is without limit…” [posted by Seeker]

Try reading the post.

Back atcha. Focus on developing some reading skills. He says "omniscient, omnipotent, and everywhere all at once, i.e. is without limit…" You, OTOH, retorted:
Wrong. "Everywhere" doesn't mean "without limit."
I understand if you forget what you say from day to day. Everywhere mean "without limit, with respect to place". You can get the more general "without limit" by including omniscient and omnipresent.
Gravity depends on space.
Get a clue. Space is a relation between entities.

Anyhow, do read the forum rules about the purpose of the forum.

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Newtonian physics claims that there’s an invisible force (at variance with the senses) stretching out from the center of point masses (also at variance with the senses). It also claimed, contrary to all earthly experiments and experience in his day, that an object, if nudged, will continue in motion in a straight line forever unless nudged again. He was right about the last but boy! was it ever a LUCKY GUESS! He had zero evidence for it. He assumed it was true in contradiction to all observation.

Newton's "invisible force" is not at variance with the senses. Newton proposed a theory that explained what his senses were telling him. It turns out that his theory was not exactly correct, but it was a reasonable approximation based on the accuracy with which he was able to observe at the time.

Saying that Newton's prediction that an object would continue to move in a straight line forever in the absence of gravity and friction was a lucky guess and that it was in contradiction to his observations is absurd. His prediction was made on the basis of careful observation, analysis and REASON. Rather than contradicting his observations, his prediction helped explain them.

I’m claiming that by the time a percept reaches the brain for further processing, it has already undergone lots of thinking – non-conscious thinking.

True. However, humans are capable of overcoming that non-conscious thinking with reason. Observations can be challenged, or approached from multiple directions. Apparent contradictions can be identified and then explained. In fact, that's a key aspect of how new discoveries are made.

Most of modern physics dismisses sensory evidence as either irrelevant or at best misleading. Physics -- not the Aristotelian variety which WAS based on sensory evidence, but the hypothesis/experimental kind developed by Galileo -- got its start specifically by DOUBTING sensory evidence or dismissing it entirely.

If sensory evidence is to be doubted or dismissed entirely, then by what mechanism do modern scientists perform or obtain results from their experiments? Osmosis? There is a difference between using one type of sensory evidence to thoroughly explain a particular phenomenon and using sensory evidence from multiple sources. I haven't read Galileo, but I believe his argument and that of modern scientists is not that sensory evidence should be dismissed, but that it should be confirmed with additional sensory evidence obtained in other ways.

Gravity is ubiquitous and has an identity.

Saying that gravity has an identity is like saying the electricity or light has an identity. Only things can have an identity, not concepts or forces. A given thing can't be ubiquitous, therefore something that is ubiquitous is a non-thing, and therefore can have no identity.

Edited by AceNZ
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Interesting. I'd like to take a look at your work. What are some of your publications?

Sure. But since you appear to be incapable of understanding a simple post on a message board, I don’t expect that you’ll be able to understand a higher level article (and one with so many pages!) in an anthology of articles on grammar and linguistics. Besides, I hate to see you spend your hard-earned money on yet another book that you won’t read.

I am sure that whoever it was that published these works of yours is beside themselves with glee over your marketing skills.
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Sorry to disappoint you but not only am I a native speaker of English but I've published in the field of grammar and linguistics.

Since one of your god's commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Lie", I will assume you ran straight to the confessional after making this statement.

Edited by KevinDW78
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I must warn you; I am what is reffered to as a "young objectivist", so my improper grammer and spelling may in fact make you implode with anger. :lol:

I believe both sides have been making logical remarks, in that, both sides have reached their arguments by following a clear syllogism of ideas. Although, I do have to say I'm not a big fan of Mr. Enthymeme's arguments, I can see from what direction he is coming from (no matter how twisted his map may be). I think that this argument would be great for another forum, whether that may be grammar and linguistics or interpretation of the senses and their accuracy. I'll cross my fingers for the latter to show up on the message boards at some point in the future, because this really is a fascinating argument.

Unfortunetly, this particular board was starting to argue how to prove a negative, rather how someone would prove that god doesn't exist.

I believe that proving a negative is like proving a scientific method; there isn't any sensory proof that God exists; but there is a lot of evidence supporting the argument.

Its almost like arguing if gravity exists. Gravity is not something you can touch or pull or give a specific identity to- but when we throw an apple in the air it falls back down. The apple is the evidence supporting that gravity exists.

So when someone argues that God exists, they can't touch or pull or show anyone that a god exists because god is more of a concept. What they can do is present a list of arguments for god, but like previously said; many of those arguments are contradictory and senseless.

One of the arguments I had a coworker recently use is that "if a god exists, wouldn't you prefer to follow his rules"?

I'm a huge fan of using John Milton to argue back with Christians, particularily because he was such a religious man himself.

"It is better to reign in hell, than to serve in heaven."

Not exact, but you get the idea.

Let us imagine for a moment that a god does exist, that for some foresaken reason, a foriegn diety did decide to give us life. It is my personal conviction that you are born in this world owing nothing, that life wasn't given to you as a choice but rather forced upon you. So what makes you owe this strange god anything? Because he made you exist without any choice involved?

But I usually get so flustered I can't properly execute my arguments. I mean, I can usually trump my opponets ( I have to argue with high school students- how hard could it be?) but I'm not as...graceful as I would like to be.

Edited by Michelle
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Saying that gravity has an identity is like saying the electricity or light has an identity. Only things can have an identity, not concepts or forces. A given thing can't be ubiquitous, therefore something that is ubiquitous is a non-thing, and therefore can have no identity.

Where'd you get the idea that concepts or forces don't have an identity? If the concepts of electricity, light, and gravity did not have an identity, you would not be able to use them--they wouldn't mean anything. "Cold" has an identity ('cold' and 'hot' are not the same thing), yet it is not an existent, or a "thing". Concepts have meaning because they have an identity, which is derived from the existents (or attributes of existents, or relationships between existents) that subsume them.

Edited by West
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Where'd you get the idea that concepts or forces don't have an identity? If the concepts of electricity, light, and gravity did not have an identity, you would not be able to use them--they wouldn't mean anything. "Cold" has an identity ('cold' and 'hot' are not the same thing), yet it is not an existent, or a "thing". Concepts have meaning because they have an identity, which is derived from the existents (or attributes of existents, or relationships between existents) that subsume them.

Perhaps I fell into a semantic trap. Is "having an identity" different from "having identity"? The former implies something concrete and tangible to me, where the latter does not. In the dictionary, most of the definitions of identity refer to things not concepts.

What's cold to me might be hot to you, so in fact they might be the same thing (although cold and hot aren't actually "things"). Even so, I guess you're right. In the more general sense of A is A, or "things are what they are," then yes, I suppose even concepts and forces "have identity".

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"Cold" has an identity ('cold' and 'hot' are not the same thing), yet it is not an existent, or a "thing".
I hate to carp, but this is an error that causes a lot of confusion. An entity (thing) is not the same as an "existent". See ITOE p. 5:

The building-block of man's knowledge is the concept of an "existent"—of something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute or an action.

All existents, even the non-entities, have an identity (there can be no "pure existence", without a specific identity).

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I hate to carp, but this is an error that causes a lot of confusion. An entity (thing) is not the same as an "existent". See ITOE p. 5:

The building-block of man's knowledge is the concept of an "existent"—of something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute or an action.

All existents, even the non-entities, have an identity (there can be no "pure existence", without a specific identity).

Oops, you're absolutely right. Where I said 'existent', I actually meant 'entity'.

edit: Unable to edit my previous post, so consider this as my amendment.

Edited by West
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Old newby here. Why don't we get to the real issue. How many angels can boogaloo on the head of a pin?

There is no way to logically argue the existence of god because the concept itself is illogical.

God, Jesus, and the Christian morality is a pre-packaged guide for living one's life and explaining the injustices and uncertainties of life. If a good person in one's life is lost to illness or accident, "god's will" is a convenient device for absorbing some of the pain and rage that accompanies that loss. The Christian morality for dealing with other people is very much like the morality of other religions and all of them are basically common sense. "Not doing to other people things you don't want them doing to you" is probably as concise a guide for one to follow as you can find and fits very comfortably with the Objectivist philosophy.

I think where most of us depart from organized religion is paying tribute to the shamans for their interpretations of the divine plan and their intercessions with The Man or The Woman on our behalf. Somewhere along the line, someone taught those of us in this discussion how to think for ourselves and we tiptoed out of the church when the BS began to reach our boot tops.

My advice to the young person who launched this thread. when asked to prove that god doesn't exist, is to ask "You accept on faith that God exists, don't you?"

The answer almost certainly will be, "Yes."

Your reply is, "Well, I can't argue with that."

Which, of course, you can't. Their end argument is essentially, "Becasue my daddy said so; and my daddy can whip your daddy."

Aguing about how to argue the point is getting just a little esoteric, don't you think? ES

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Arguing about how to argue the point is getting just a little esoteric, don't you think? ES

:read: I think it has a very useful purpose. I enjoy seeing how others have reached their conclusions on how to interpret life. As well, sometimes if you're lucky and you meet a Christian who's uncertain or has an open mind; you can show them true logic and reason. I would say the best outcome in arguing with a Christian in whether or not a God exists is having them read some material by Ayn Rand and showing them how you've reached your personal conclusions.

If you're arguing with someone who you can sense is very close minded or not open to discussion, then I completely agree with you. But we can't stereotype because that isn't the case for every Christian.

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  • 1 month later...
Hello again everyone. I have a question about a question I've been running into a lot recently. Like the Topic title indicates. "Well, how can you prove that God doesn't exist?"

I have a lot of discussions with people, on other forums, friends, family, and acquaintances(for fun/practice). In the subjects I feel familiar enough to actually get into a debate with another person, things usually dissolve when I get hit with that question... I am unsure how to respond correctly. I tried the "burden of proof" line and got it retorted back to me. I essentially got lost in the question.

The best thing I came up with is stating "I can't disprove anything, because you haven't given me any arguments for me to refute." And that generally ends the discussion. I'd go deeper into the fallacy of negative proof, but I find it derails the current topic. And I find it hard to articulate my thoughts when things I see as rudimentary (Like some fallacies) and explain them in detail...

Any other ways of thinking, or answers to that dreaded(stupid?) question? For some reason that I can't put my finger on, I don't feel that response is 'rock solid' enough. Maybe I'm getting tricked by the fallacy itself, I may not even require a more in-depth answer.

Anyone have any pointers for me?

There are two ways to approach this depending on how detailed you want to be. One, you've already sort of hit on already.

The first way - and the easiest I might add - is to rest on the logical fallacy that says that you are never called upon to prove a negative. That, it sounds like, you tried. Try expanding on that a little further.

The onus is on the one making the assertion. "They" - the religious folk - asserted that there was a supernatural deity capable of evading all of our senses.

You don't need to "prove that God doesn't exist" since they made the arbitrary assertion that God does exist. If you are going to tell them to prove that God exists, make sure that they make the statement first. That way, you don't need to even raise the question. They can hit you with the negative, but your response, although it may seem crude, can be to - at least initially - rely on the fact that THEY made the assertion first, they need to prove their assertion before you can move forward.

It's actually easy to shoot down their alleged "proofs" since they will all rely on non-real statements or the Bible (a circular argument) or some other argument which will violate A = A, which you can demonstrate as self-evident, nullifying their position immediately.

Another way is a bit more complicated, but so satisfying for those who are a little higher on the intellectual scale. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/AFE.html

That explanation is truly awesome. Beware...you'll get a lot of glazed over looks. :)

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I actually got into an argument today about the existence of a deity (the Christian God):

Me: Do you believe that existence exists, and what is outside of existence indeed does not exist?

Them: Yes, that makes sense.

Me: So in order for God to create existence, he must have been outside of existence. Therefore, he does not exist.

Them: It's a matter of faith.

Dead end.

Me: What makes you think that a God exists?

Them: I just feel it. I know it in my gut.

Me: So you think that you believing it automatically makes it so?

Them: Yes, it does for millions of people.

That was one of my "What the Fuck!" moments.

Me: Can God do anything?

Them: Of course, He's God.

Me: Can He create a mathematical equation so complicated that he cannot even solve it?

Them: No, because he can solve anything. He's God.

Me: So you're saying that he cannot create that sort of equation?

Them: It's a matter of faith.

AGAIN falls back into their 'faith'. :pimp:

Me: [repeats "Outside of existence" explanation]

Them: If it's such a big breakthrough, why hasn't anybody thought of it before?

Me: They have. Many times. They choose not to think about it because they don't like the idea of atheism.

Them: Isn't the happiness in the idea of God more important?

Me: The reality of the situation is beautiful. Knowing in certainty has created a happiness I could have never imagined as a Christian.

Them: Well, if that works for you.

Falling into Subjectivism.

So you see, there's no way to argue with them. You cannot change their mind, because they don't regard facts as proof. Their "gut feelings" are much more important to them.

I grew up in a Catholic family. I've tried.

Here is where you run into the problem of not being able to reason with matters of faith. This is why Objectivism holds that reason and faith are incompatible. You apply one by sacrificing the other.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Trying to "Prove X exists" is a logical fallacy. Something either exists or it does not. We don't run an experiment or make some observations to make something exist. If I have a theory (God exists) the first thing I do is define the words in my claim so that everyone knows precisely what I'm talking about. Anyone who claims "X does/doesn't exist" will have to define exist unambiguously (and also probably define X). Once I define the words in my claim it is either true or it is not. The conclusions follow logically from the premises. Anyone else can choose to accept or reject my claim. As long as my claim is internally consistent it is valid. If my claim is not internally consistent we usually term it "religion" or "supernatural". If it's internally inconsistent but we have respect for the proponent (i.e. we think s/he made an honest mistake) we simply say it is invalid and pat him/her on the back, and offer to help.

Edited by altonhare
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Trying to "Prove X exists" is a logical fallacy.
Any fact which is not self-evident requires a process of integrating and/or interpreting perceptions to verify its truth. Is this not proving the fact?

Something either exists or it does not. We don't run an experiment or make some observations to make something exist.
True, experiments don't make things exist; we run experiments to demonstrate or validate the existence of things.
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Any fact which is not self-evident requires a process of integrating and/or interpreting perceptions to verify its truth. Is this not proving the fact?

True, experiments don't make things exist; we run experiments to demonstrate or validate the existence of things.

I didn't say there was "no such thing" as proving. I simply said it was fallacious to prove *existence*.

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Trying to "Prove X exists" is a logical fallacy. Something either exists or it does not. We don't run an experiment or make some observations to make something exist. If I have a theory (God exists) the first thing I do is define the words in my claim so that everyone knows precisely what I'm talking about. Anyone who claims "X does/doesn't exist" will have to define exist unambiguously (and also probably define X). Once I define the words in my claim it is either true or it is not. The conclusions follow logically from the premises. Anyone else can choose to accept or reject my claim. As long as my claim is internally consistent it is valid. If my claim is not internally consistent we usually term it "religion" or "supernatural". If it's internally inconsistent but we have respect for the proponent (i.e. we think s/he made an honest mistake) we simply say it is invalid and pat him/her on the back, and offer to help.

This sounds like a pile of rationalism. Internal consistency is not the standard of proof of anything, it is a means of proof. Only external consistency, reality perceived by the senses, can be the standard of proof.

I would agree that using the word "proof" in demonstrations of existence is wrong. Ultimately all demonstrations of existence must reduce to an appeal to the evidence of the senses. A demonstration of non-existence cannot be made because there is no evidence for the senses to perceive. The only way to make an argument for non-existence is to prove a contradiction with what is already known with certainty.

A person who believes certainty is impossible will not believe that contradictions disprove anything. This is how Kant made room for faith.

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Or that anything that exists is self evident and therefore provable?

This table in front of me exists or it does not. I do not "prove" it exists! A planet on the other side of the galaxy exists whether anyone ever "proves" it. You don't prove existence.

How will you "prove" this table exists? Will you point to it? Did it not exist before you pointed to it?

This sounds like a pile of rationalism. Internal consistency is not the standard of proof of anything, it is a means of proof. Only external consistency, reality perceived by the senses, can be the standard of proof.

I would agree that using the word "proof" in demonstrations of existence is wrong. Ultimately all demonstrations of existence must reduce to an appeal to the evidence of the senses. A demonstration of non-existence cannot be made because there is no evidence for the senses to perceive. The only way to make an argument for non-existence is to prove a contradiction with what is already known with certainty.

A person who believes certainty is impossible will not believe that contradictions disprove anything. This is how Kant made room for faith.

Well said with regard to "proof" of existence.

You attacked a straw man however. You said "internal consistency is not the standard of proof...". I never stated it was.

What I described is a method to evaluate theories and ideas. An epistemology. I call it the scientific method. Anyone is free to pose their own method. As long as everyone else agrees upon the method they are all doing "science" unless the method involves violating identity (contradicting self, i.e. internal consistency).

Also note that it directly involves "external consistency" i.e. pointing at objects that are part of the theory, showing a demonstration involving them, then explaining observations (external).

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Also note that it directly involves "external consistency" i.e. pointing at objects that are part of the theory, showing a demonstration involving them, then explaining observations (external).

Ok then, we are substantially in agreement. My minor point then is that "internal consistency" is the sine qua non of rationalism, and does not usually imply or include any observation. Rationalism - In more technical terms it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive."

Your usage to the contrary is idiosyncratic and misleading (to me at least) but I catch your meaning and agree now you are certainly not advocating rationalism.

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Ok then, we are substantially in agreement. My minor point then is that "internal consistency" is the sine qua non of rationalism, and does not usually imply or include any observation. Rationalism - In more technical terms it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive."

Your usage to the contrary is idiosyncratic and misleading (to me at least) but I catch your meaning and agree now you are certainly not advocating rationalism.

I understand your confusion. I have 0 formal philosophy instruction so I sometimes speak idiosyncratically. Internal consistency is but one necessary and insufficient criterion.

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