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# The Burden Of Proof...On God?

• away with your pedantic arguments! All mathematical theories can be proven true given enough computing power. Wait, what about the mathematical proof that adding two even numbers always results in an even result? What about the law of divisibility by three?
Mathematical proofs and theories are NOT the same as scientific proofs and theories. Math includes arbitrary sets of defined symbols and operators: nothing more. Science does not have the luxury of postulates.

Somethings can be proven beyond being a theory as long as the particular circumstances around the event are constant.
Wrong. In science, just because something happened a certain way in a particular trial does not prove that it always will. The more times you replicate an experiment, the more likely it is to be true. As the number of successful trials approaches infinity (in the absence of counterexamples), the probability of veracity approaches 1.

As you cannot undertake infinite trials, you can never "prove" anything beyond the level of "theory."
• The math theorems you're talking about can be proven from deduction. As long as the underlying assumptions are true, the theorem will be true. Newton's theory was similarly based on mathematical assumptions. As far as the mathematical derivation goes it can be said to be true in the truest sense. As far as its application to the physical world, we must make an additional assumption that our underlying mathematical assumptions accurately reflect the physical world. This is one of the reasons we are not prepared to say that the theory is proven with the same certainty as a theorem. Some physical theories are proven by induction, which makes us somewhat uncertain as well. However, if the theory makes reproducible predictions, we consider it true until something better comes along.

As to your claim that all mathematical statements can be proven, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorem

• As to your claim that all mathematical statements can be proven, seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del's_incompleteness_theorem
I believe you meant to link here
• edited January 2007
That means my post was "incomplete". LOL.
Post edited by HungryJoe on
• Look, unlike many of the people on here I have been out of school for nearly twenty years. what many of you will discover, as you get older, is that things you know to be true will remain as true in your mind though you may forget why.

Example: You will likely never forget that a2+b2=c2. You will probably forget the name of this theorem but you will remember it and why you need it.

The same goes for so many things you learn in your first 25 years of life. Yes, I know I am using the wrong terms in this thread this is due to memory loss and being so far removed from school. In the "real world" no one cares if you know it is called "Ohm's Law" as long as you understand and know what the law is and means.

Rym - If you READ my post rather than PARSED it you would see that what I am saying (and your rebuttal) are saying the exact same thing! A clinical study can be proven 100% for the given situation but it does not prove the theory as a whole, it only proves that in that one exact situation it holds true (or false.) Also, math and science are intimately intertwined, two sides of the same coin.
• A clinical study can be proven 100% for the given situation but it does not prove the theory as a whole, it only proves that in that one exact situation it holds true (or false.)
Except that it doesn't prove that it holds true even in that exact situation. It just makes it extremely likely. There's always the chance that anything shown true in case n will be disproven in case n + 1.

I can throw the exact same ball out the window a billion billion times, and that still does not 100% prove that it will behave the same way on the billion billion and first time. As I conduct 10, 100, 1000, a million clinical trials, not a single one of them can prove 100% that something is true. A single counterexample would discount those millions of trials.

There is no number of trials that could ever push a theory beyond being a theory. There is no number of trials that can 100% prove an inductive argument.
• Rym, you are missing the point! Look at my original post:
Somethings can be proven beyond being a theory as long as the particular circumstances around the event are constant
In all honesty, you can never repeat a clinical test more than once because something will have changed. Even something as simple as a few electrons breaking free is a change. This is why a certain degree of deviation is allowed in a clinical test. The only thing you can prove is that for that one set of circumstances the theory held true.

Now, if it only takes one failure to keep a theory from becoming a law, how can you say there is no God?
• To me it depends on who starts the discussion. Sine the person who does so is usually the one making the claim, they are the ones that are required to give proof to support their claim. Doesn't matter what position you have.
• To me it depends on who starts the discussion. Sine the person who does so is usually the one making the claim, they are the ones that are required to give proof to support their claim. Doesn't matter what position you have.
So if I start a discussion claiming I ate peanut butter and jelly for lunch you will refuse to believe it until I provide sufficient evidence?

What if I approach you and start a discussion about how pigs can not fly? You will automatically believe pigs can fly until I provide evidence demonstrating otherwise?

Oh, I forgot to tell you. There aren't any laws that say you have to give me all your money and belongings. Nope, not one.
• edited January 2007
Joo har always joodging me because I only believe in Chience. . .
Post edited by HungryJoe on
• I forgot the name of the movie I think it Santa Clause, but anyhow it goes like this:
"Just because you have never seen One million dollars it does not mean it does not exist".
II must be nuts to bring such a simple line to an argument like this :P
• II must be nuts to bring such a simple line to an argument like this :P
Yea, you are.
• edited January 2007
To me it depends on who starts the discussion. Sine the person who does so is usually the one making the claim, they are the ones that are required to give proof to support their claim. Doesn't matter what position you have.
The claim must be an extraordinary one, or one that is contrary to what is currently accepted. For example, currently, we all believe Scott is gay. Were I to postulate that Scott were heterosexual, I would have to bring evidence to bear to support this claim. Since no such evidence exists, we are forced to continue accepting Scott's love of ass spelunking.

In all seriousness, an extraordinary claim is one that contradicts or flies in the face of that which is currently accepted as being scientifically valid. If you want to make such a claim, you need to back it up with evidence.

So, it doesn't matter who initiates the conversation. If I remark that modern synthesis of evolution is defined as the changing of allele frequencies in a population over time, I have not made an extraordinary claim; I have, in fact, made a particularly ordinary claim, as it is the one that fits in with our current understanding. If, however, I wish to contend that a giant turtle vomited forth the universe, I'd better have some giant turtle vomit lying around to back that up.

EDIT: Also, science does not "prove" things in the colloquial meaning of the word "prove." A body of scientific information is subject to constant scrutiny and revision, because our understanding of things changes very frequently. Scientific conclusions only give you the most likely outcome that the data show; even then, when doing statistical analyses with scientific data, you generally stick to a 95% confidence limit, because there is indeed a chance that things simply went wonky. So "prove" is not the right word, at least not in the way that most people want to use it. Technically, though, science proves principles inasmuch as anything can really be proven.
Post edited by TheWhaleShark on
• edited January 2007
Wow. One day and this thread has become a flamewar. You guys made fast work.
Post edited by Sail on
• Man, I go to bed and this thread EXPLODES.
How can you prove something that you do not even understand?

If I asked you, right now, to prove how and why gravity works, could you? Or do you simply blindly accept the "theory" of how gravity works?
Absolutely. Except, we know how it works.
However, the fundamental christian god and Christians, makes many testable claims, from historical events to the healing power of prayer to the resurrection of Jesus. All of these can be analysed and shown to be fallacious.
As for the resurrection of Jesus, I believe the Bible. However, to say that anything and everything about healing/prophecy is fallacious is flat out wrong. I can list several instances of prophecies made by Jewish kings such as David that were accurate down to the week; specifically, He predicted the birth of Christ down to the week. All that can be said of blindly denying everything taught by the Bible as sheer fantasy and children's stories is ignorant as many standard principles of our society not bound by religion can be found in the bible.

ALL THIS IS TO SAY: I really don't want to argue with anyone about this. I've put what I think out there and I'm done. Yes, my claim of God is an extraordinary one and the amount/quality of my evidence may or may not be sufficient enough for some of you. But whether you call me insane, a nut, or anything else derogatory, it's not going to change what I believe, and I'm still going to like you guys.
• I agree with Brine... I'm done with this thread...
• Ah, the final defense of the true believer. State an unfounded idea and then withdraw from the marketplace of ideas.
• As for the resurrection of Jesus, I believe the Bible.

What about the Bible makes it an accurate historical document, much less a scientific treatise? Generously assuming that it hasn't undergone changes in the last ~1600 or so years of translations and transcriptions, the New Testament in its current form was compiled centuries after the events it described. No other document, given such a pedigree, would be accepted as a historically authoritative source, not without a great deal of supporting documentation. The very secular interests of the Catholic church for much of that history only clouds the issue further.
• Im in between. Its hard to believe theres someone up there without proof. Its hard to believe anything without proof. Id like to believe, and Id like it to be true. But its hard to believe.

@Alex yeah, I agree. I've seen many shows/read stuff that says how the Bible and scriptures are the most accurate compared to any other historical documents. But how can that be?! It cant.

As for translations, yes its been translated many many times into lots of languages, but I've also hear that there still have copies of it in its original language(or one that dates back many years ago with few changes). Also when it is translated its always translated from the same source. Its not like they translated it to Greek then from Greek to French, the from French to English, or whatever. So the translations dont differ to greatly from one another.
-at least thats from what Ive read/seen on TV. So it could be all false.
• Just jumping back for a second on translations issue:

Hasn't "though shall not murder" often been mistranslated to be "though shall not kill" ???
• edited January 2007
Post edited by Sail on
• Just jumping back for a second on translations issue:
I'm sorry, but the translation issue was completely not the point of my earlier post. I don't have sufficient info handy to comment on it one way or the other.

My original point was about the validity of any single source. Claiming that something happened "because the Bible says so" is missing a fundamentally important point of any kind of research. No one source can be trusted. Ever. There's simply no way of knowing whether the author(s) have misrepresented true events or not. Such misrepresentation might not be intentional, and might not be outright lies; it's quite possible to leave a false impression simply by omission of certain details, and any author is going to gloss over the details of what they think is less important. This is just a fact of writing, or any kind of recording: if you're not focusing on (what you think is) the important stuff, you're not doing your job as an author.

The Bible seems to be, in the views of many people, somehow an exception to this. (The same problem holds for other religious texts, and is hardly unique to that realm either). If you like the stories, and think they demonstrate some especially meaningful view of existence, that's one thing. But the moment you try to talk about an event being historical fact because it's written in the gospels, it becomes abundantly clear that you haven't thought your position through at all.
• What about the Bible makes it an accurate historical document, much less a scientific treatise? Generously assuming that it hasn't undergone changes in the last ~1600 or so years of translations and transcriptions, the New Testament in its current form was compiled centuries after the events it described. No other document, given such a pedigree, would be accepted as a historically authoritative source, not without a great deal of supporting documentation. The very secular interests of the Catholic church for much of that history only clouds the issue further.
Exactly. It's important to remember that the Bible is not an historical chronicle, but a collection of religious canon. The Christian faith may be based upon the contents of the book, but that is no guarantee that the events depicted therein occured the way they are described, or even at all. It only means that the included passages (which may have come from stories, oral traditions, or other written works) held spiritual significance for a certain set of people, whom decided to adopt the book as the foundation of their religious ritual and experience. When people tout the contents of the Bible, they can only assert that it is a work central to their beliefs and practices, and nothing more. They cannot, with any validity, assert that it is a literal record of events that actually occured. Factual recounting is not, and never was, the purpose of the Bible.

Furthermore, Christianity likely began as a revitalization movement, which revolve around a charismatic central figure who preaches and spreads a message in order to induce societal change. These movements typically progress through several stages, the final of which is a "routinization" stage, in which the central figure takes on a larger-than-life, symbolic, or miraculous meaning and significance. By this time, the founder is often long-dead or removed, and fanciful, magical, or divine stories about them begin to appear and are accepted into the beliefs of the transformed society. If this is so, the tales about Jesus' miracles are fictional or exaggerated. That's not to say they are without significance or a valuable message - only that they are metaphorical and not true to fact.

Just because something's in the Bible, or any book of scripture, doesn't mean it's "true." Does it have value? A powerful message? To many people, yes. But is it proof of God, or an accurate, factual portrayal of history or "what actually happened?" Absolutely not. People need to understand this and take the Bible for what it really is.
• edited January 2007
You guys shouldn't be demanding evidence, you should be arguing who needs to provide that evidence.
Why shouldn't we? There is no argument about who needs to provide the evidence, it is purely upon the religious to provide it. Why do we put an automatic protection to those who believe in god/gods? There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't demand evidence. You may ask, why do you care? This is why I care.
Post edited by Andrew on
• edited January 2007
You guys shouldn't be demanding evidence, you should be arguing who needs to provide that evidence.
Why shouldn't we? There is no argument about who needs to provide the evidence, it is purely upon the religious to provide it. Why do we put an automatic protection to those who believe in god/gods? There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't demand evidence. You may ask, why do you care?Thisis why I care.
Did you even read the rest of my post?
Perhaps a demand of evidence is part of the natural progression of this thread...Nay-sayers, it is not your burden to provide evidence, but it is also not your place to press your ideas on the other side...If this is your belief, do not feel that you need to convince others of it. And that goes double for the atheists.
The purpose of that post was to calm the several slightly more vicious comments in this thread to those believers. I am an atheist, and I know why you want answers, but to press your ideas on others makes you just as bad as the religious fanatics who try to press theirs on you(and not you, of course, WaterIsPoison, I use "you" in the general sense). That was my one and only point I intended to make in that post and I made it with the intention of keeping the thread from growing vicious as opposed to intellectual.
Post edited by Sail on
• The purpose of that post was to calm the several slightly more vicious comments in this thread to those believers. I am an atheist, and I know why you want answers, but to press your ideas on others makes you just as bad as the religious fanatics who try to press theirs on you(and not you, of course, WaterIsPoison, I use "you" in the general sense). That was my one and only point I intended to make in that post and I made it with the intention of keeping the thread from growing vicious as opposed to intellectual.
What's wrong with it? If someone came into the forum and said that Scientology isn't a cult, DRM is good thing, M.D. Geist is a great anime, homeopathic medicine works or that perpetual motion machines are real, there is no problem with telling them they are wrong. There's even less wrong with simply questioning their irrationality. So why is it that when someone claims to believe in something equally wrong, only religious, we can't do the same thing?

People do not like being told they are wrong. They like it less when they realize they are wrong. Nobody likes to feel like an idiot. Nobody likes to realize they are irrational. Very few people on this earth are not intelligent and admit it openly. Finding out that something you have believed for a long time is false can be very upsetting or even traumatic. In our society, which seems to value being nice more than being right, it has somehow become mean to tell people they are wrong, even if they believe in the craziest of bat-shit.

The fact is this. Some people are irrational. If irrational people are exposed to a rational and intellectual discussion, it will make them feel bad in the way I have just described. It's not pleasant when people feel bad, but it's tough shit. Life is not all sunshine and roses. It would be fair to call someone mean if their goal was to make other people feel bad. I can assure you that if that was anyone's goal, there are much more efficient ways of doing it. Trust me, I'm an expert at it. However, nobody here is attempting to make anyone feel bad. We are simply attempting to have an intellectual discussion about the nature of rationality and the scientific method. Such a discussion is like kryptonite to irrational people. Simply by coming near it they will feel bad. If they have any amount of logical abilities in their brain, they will come to realize that things they believe are wrong. That will make them upset. This creates the perception that rational people are attacking irrational people when it is clearly not the case. If there was an attack going on, you would know.

It is not merely permissible, but noble and admirable to both point out when someone else is wrong, and to admit when you yourself are wrong. We must decide as a society that the truth, logic and rationality are more important than the possibility of some people's feelings being hurt.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
• edited January 2007
For the record, I'm not saying I'm not paying attention to the thread. I care about what goes on in here. I just refuse to get caught up in anything that will put me in an adverse position.

An important issue as to why I believe the Bible (as a whole) is the substitution of proof with faith. If one has FAITH in something, they don't need science or reason. I'm not saying that absolutely nothing about anything people believe in is scientific or reasonable, what I mean is that one's personal beliefs and convictions don't need anyone's proof. Everyone weights what effects their beliefs differently; some put more weight in science, material and everything tangible and others put more weight in their feelings, intuition and spirit.

I, as an individual, have nothing to prove. As I stated earlier in this thread, I say what I believe and if anyone wants to ask me about it, they can. I'm not going to pressure anyone into intense spiritual and theological interrogation. That's not my responsibility. It is the responsibility of evangelists who have largely gone about Christianity in a commercial way giving it a universally bad image. One last thing: anyone who is forcefully expressing their beliefs of atheism in an inconsiderate manner are quite frankly just as annoying as every TV evangelist you've ever seen or heard.
It is not merely permissible, but noble and admirable to both point out when someone else is wrong, and to admit when you yourself are wrong. We must decide as a society that the truth, logic and rationality are more important than the possibility of some people's feelings being hurt.
That's where you are wrong, Scott. I entirely deny any authority anyone has here to declare what is 100% true and right or completely fallacious and wrong. It's rather arrogant of you to put atheists in a more noble or admiral position than anyone else. To say that there is no possibility of anything else being true is entirely out of anyone's jurisdiction, including yours. Whether or NOT there is a god and if any god that exists is my God or not, I have every right to believe what I choose and no one on this forum is in any place to tell me what I should believe.
Post edited by Brineshrimp on
• It is not merely permissible, but noble and admirable to both point out when someone else is wrong, and to admit when you yourself are wrong. We must decide as a society that the truth, logic and rationality are more important than the possibility of some people's feelings being hurt.
*sigh* You are completely correct, Scott. And I suppose it is my place to admit my wrongness right now.

As Penn and Teller once said on Bullshit!, "People think they have a right not to be offended, but they don't."
• That's where you are wrong, Scott. I entirely deny any authority anyone has here to declare what is 100% true and right or completely fallacious and wrong. It's rather arrogant of you to put atheists in a more noble or admiral position than anyone else. To say that there is no possibility of anything else being true is entirely out of anyone's jurisdiction, including yours. Whether or NOT there is a god and if any god that exists is my God or not, I have every right to believe what I choose and no one on this forum is in any place to tell me what I should believe.
Make sure you read all the words in this one carefully. I don't want you misinterpreting it. I mean every word written here in an extremely literal sense.

We've already discussed how nothing can be proven 100% true or 100% false. It's just impossible due to the nature of human knowledge. We can, however, be 99.99999% sure the sky is blue. That leaves room for there to be a chance that the sky is green. However, anyone who claims the sky is green in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary is irrational, illogical and delusional. Well, I guess they could be excused if they were colorblind. Nobody is saying there is absolutely no possibility of god. We're saying that the possibility is so infinitesimally small that only an irrational person could believe it.

You have a right to believe what you want. You can choose to believe that pigs fly. You can choose to believe that the world is fifty years old. You can choose to believe in Xenu and Thetans. You can choose to believe in conspiracy theories. That is your right, and I will stand strongly against anyone who tries to take it from you. Feel free to exercise your right to believe in things that we are 99.999999% sure are false, nobody is stopping you. You can have all the faith you want and more, and nobody will be able to take it away from you. As a strong believer in freedom, I, nor any good person I know, will tell you to stop exercising your rights in the way you please.

All I am doing here is pointing out that the faith you choose to have, as is your right, is irrational, delusional and illogical by its very definition. This is a fact you have to live with. You can choose to believe you are not irrational, but that might not do the trick. I could exercise my right to believe that I am a billionaire. That will not magically change the amount of money in my bank account. Just because you are free to believe in a god doesn't mean that god will suddenly come into existence. Choose to believe in anything you want, as long as you realize the evidence is stacked against you. All of the evidence we have suggests that your beliefs, which you are free to continue believing in, have a 99.99999% chance of being absolutely false. The universe does not conform to your beliefs. You can choose to continue believing and accept your irrationality, or you change your beliefs to conform to the reality of the universe as we know it.

Everyone I have ever known, including myself, would like for this to be not true. I would love it if there were a god or gods. I would love it if there were magic and miracles. I would love it if I could change the world just by believing in things. I would love if prayer did something. Nothing could be better. I would choose a world of magic and the paranormal before I would choose to be ruler of this world. I would choose for there to be a real god over a chance to drive a Formula 1 car. However, I am a rational person who is aware of the difference between fantasy and reality. I choose to believe only things which are most likely true about this universe. This allows me to make the best decisions in my life. It scares me to even think about what kind of decisions I would make if I were to base those decisions on falsehoods. The fact that it doesn't scare other people scares me even more.

One last thing. You may perceive my attitude as arrogant. I just want to point out that someone's attitude has no effect on the validity of their position. The nicest person in the world can say that 1+ 2 = 12. The meanest asshole in the world can say that 3 x 3 = 9. Their attitudes have no effect on the truth of their statements. You might like the nice person and hate the mean person, but the mean person is still right. People of reason are often perceived by people of faith to be arrogant. That's just the way things are because, as I said, irrational people do not enjoy having their lack of logic pointed out to them. Let's just be clear that the unpleasantness of someone's attitude has nothing to do with the validity of their statements. It might effect your like or dislike of the individual, but that like or dislike is irrelevant in a rational debate.
• edited January 2007
Back to the dang and 100% original issue of relgions being 'delusions', huh? This is why I hate the very concept of this thread, it's noone's place to say what is and isn't delusional! People are not the same and definitions are different as well. For God's sake, some people are skeptical of anything and everything because it's rational to do so, but in reality the world sees it quite differently. Such a person may not bet a penny on a 50/50 odds bet but a lot of people might bet their life savings. Just like belief, religion and personal conviction, rational thought is largely PERSONAL. Oh, and now I'm done with this thread. I'll be quite honest, I need to cool off and forget this entire thing.
Post edited by Brineshrimp on