Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possible?

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Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possible?

Postby DjVortex » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:11 pm

I wrote in an earlier thread about what could possibly convince me of the existence of life after death, the supernatural and/or (a) god beyond reasonable doubt, and I came to the conclusion that it's just not possible. Everything I can think of has alternative hypotheses that are not in the realm of total impossibility.

I would like to pose a more general question: Is definitive and ultimate proof for the existence of God possible at all?

Many deluded believers, especially creationists, claim to have tons and tons of "proofs" (with which they really mean "evidence", as "proof" is something different completely) for the existence of God. Invariably these "proofs" are completely flawed.

So what would be credible proof? Is it even possible?

My pet alternative hypothesis (which isn't my invention, of course, as countless skeptics have also presented it way before me) is that of the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens using Sufficiently Advanced Technology (the one that's proverbially indistinguishable from magic). They can make it look like we are experiencing something supernatural, when in fact we aren't. Completely within the laws of this universe, but so advanced that it goes well beyond our understanding of it or, even more plausibly, just mass hypnosis. They could probably also affect any measurement devices we could ever have (or likewise, just hypnotize us to see results that aren't there). This for every possible "proof" or "evidence" that we could ever think of for the existence of a supernatural god.

Even if we had apparent "definitive proof" of a god, what could be more plausible, that it's really a supernatural entity, or that an alien species way beyond our technological progress is experimenting or toying with us?

What would convince you of the existence of a supernatural god?
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby Lausten » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:04 pm

I would accept a mathematical proof. That is what I currently accept as the most plausible explanation of the origin of the universe currently, so if those same people, Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, etc. said they found God, either I would have to completely rethink the world view I have, or I would have to accept their proof. Not just one of them of course, I mean they come up with some sort of proof, and others examine it, check if for errors, just like any proof of Einstein's theories or others. Most likely, and I doubt I will see this in my lifetime, they will only come up a creator, and it will most likely be something that I can't quite comprehend, some sort of definition of "nothing" that doesn't make sense using my everyday language. That they could connect that creation to the Biblical God, using math, is patently absurd, but if they did it, how could I argue?

I'm not talking about just the creation of this physical universe, I'm assuming they are on the right track with the new definition of nothing and the multiple universe idea has some traction. That really just moves creation back a step, it doesn't answer where that "nothing" came from. Much like your magician alien idea. Where did they come from?

Theists have already figured this one out. Once science started explaining miracles that people said they observed, they started moving God further and further back. They see choosing between Lawrence Krauss or Ken Hamm as a flip of the coin. I've been listening to the proceedings on changing the science standards in Kansas and am amazed at the ability of college educated people to interrupt their own thinking and say that we can't know much about things that happened in the past. This resonates with a lot of people and since thinking beyond 10,000 years ago is difficult for them, they easily accept that the whole shooting match coulda started then.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby DjVortex » Sun Apr 01, 2012 7:24 pm

Lausten wrote:I would accept a mathematical proof.


You can't even prove your own existence mathematically, how could you ever prove someone else's, much less that of a supernatural entity?

Mathematics is a formal description of the concepts of quantity, structure, space and change. It can be used to describe the universe, but it cannot be used to prove anything but its own axioms.

"Proving" something about the universe always starts with some assumptions. For instance, you could "prove" that an object would follow a certain trajectory using Newtonian mechanics and, starting from that assumption, the "proof" would be correct. However, it would be incorrect in the actual universe because the assumption was incorrect (namely, that Newtonian mechanics is an accurate description of the universe). You would have to prove that the assumption is correct, but how do you do that? Not mathematically. You could hypothesize how the universe really works, but you can't prove it. Your hypothesis needs to be corroborated through observation, measurements and experiments.

Now, what happens if the hypothesis deals with something that cannot be observed, measured or experimented?
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby Lausten » Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:40 pm

Now, what happens if the hypothesis deals with something that cannot be observed, measured or experimented?

Not surprising you say that since you rarely accept any argument for anything. You just deny what others say. So, how do you stand on Richard Dawkins idea of temporary agnosticism as laid out in The God Delusion? He says we might have proof someday, so we can't consider the matter closed.

Your question that I quoted is very close to what creationists say about Darwinism. They call it "historical science" and say that once you go back far enough, you're just guessing, that we can't say anything about the Cambrian explosion because we weren't there. It is an immature understanding of science. We can't observe or experiment with the big bang, but we have measured the cosmic background radiation, and since that was theorized to exist as a result of the big bang, it is considered evidence for it. We currently have a lot of theorizing about the results of things that we can't observe. Do you put any stock in string theory at all? It is currently not known if we will ever directly observe whatever is going on at that level. That's why it is called a theory. Evolution is also called a theory, but there is so much evidence for it that it is treated as proven.

If we can't come to some agreement on these terms, then there isn't much point in discussing it.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby DjVortex » Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:55 am

Lausten wrote:Not surprising you say that since you rarely accept any argument for anything.


Where have I said that?

The closest thing I have said is that when a creationist makes an argument for the existence of God, one should first and foremost make it clear that the argument is actually flawed. (For example, "miracles are evidence for the existence of God" is a flawed argument: Even if miracles did happen, they would not be evidence for a god. The source of them would be a mystery, and attributing them to a god is a fallacy.)

You just deny what others say.


Care to give a concrete example?

Your question that I quoted is very close to what creationists say about Darwinism.


And that makes the question invalid?

If a creationist uses the 2nd law of thermodynamics to argue their position, does that make the 2nd law of thermodynamics invalid?

Applying the question to evolution is erroneous because there's a relevant difference: Evolution is a natural process and thus can be physically tested. A "god" is by definition supernatural. How do you physically test a hypothetical supernatural being?

(Btw, there's no such thing as "Darwinism". That's as silly as using the word "Einsteinism" to refer to the theory of relativity.)

Do you put any stock in string theory at all?


No repeatable tests, no experimental results, no observations, no predictive power, no practical applications... Why should I?

That's why it is called a theory.


The word "theory" in "string theory" is a complete misnomer. It fails all the hallmarks of a scientific theory. It's not backed up by evidence, repeatable tests, predictive power or anything at all. "String hypothesis" would be the more accurate name.

Evolution is also called a theory, but there is so much evidence for it that it is treated as proven.


That's the definition of "scientific theory".

If we can't come to some agreement on these terms, then there isn't much point in discussing it.


That sentiment is needlessly hostile.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby Lausten » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:22 am

I wrote:You just deny what others say.



Care to give a concrete example?

Just look back over our last few threads.

I wrote:If we can't come to some agreement on these terms, then there isn't much point in discussing it.



That sentiment is needlessly hostile.

That's the other thing you do. Complain about tone. My statement is part of the Socratic method. No hostility is required to defend it.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby DjVortex » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:06 pm

Lausten wrote:That's the other thing you do. Complain about tone.


Are you possibly confusing me with someone else? Because I honestly cannot understand what you are referring to.

Why are you being so hostile?

Edit: I think I get it now: You didn't like my rant about TAE crew's feministic attitudes, and now I'm seemingly a persona non grata in your eyes, and you filter everything I write through a lens of pedantry and overt criticism.

If that's the case, my answer is: *sigh*
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby Lausten » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:35 pm

DJ wrote: Care to give a concrete example?

How to properly define skepticism
Why Now
And the threads you start that don’t get a response might be a clue

DJ wrote:If a creationist uses the 2nd law of thermodynamics to argue their position, does that make the 2nd law of thermodynamics invalid?

No, only the use of it as an argument against evolution is invalid.

DJ wrote:A "god" is by definition supernatural. How do you physically test a hypothetical supernatural being?

There are many ways to define god. The claims of the writers of the Bible are testable in the sense that we can reduce the odds of their possibility to nearly zero. i.e. if parting the Red Sea as described in Exodus is determined to be not possible today, lacking any other evidence, it is extremely unlikely it ever happened. That’s how we have eliminated the possibility of the God of the Bible.

Michael Shermer on the other hand, lays out a possible scenario for the idea that our creator was an intelligent being from another universe, similar to your pet hypothesis. It’s an idea that has some potential for testability.

The definition of “supernatural” has changed as we have increased our understanding of nature. Lightning used to be supernatural, now it isn’t. To increase our understanding of nature, we begin with the premise that there are laws of nature and they are consistent throughout the known universe. That led us to the beginnings of this universe and we found that for the first milliseconds of it, the laws were different. We had to rethink “time” and “nothing”. None of this precludes the notion that a new definition of god could emerge from scientific exploration, but it does continue to reduce the probability.

DJ wrote:Btw, there's no such thing as "Darwinism".

I was talking about creationists so I used their term. Sorry.

DJ wrote:
I wrote:Do you put any stock in string theory at all?



No repeatable tests, no experimental results, no observations, no predictive power, no practical applications... Why should I?.

Because it is the best explanation we have for the structure of the universe. Have you published your paper refuting it? And yes, I know there are scientists who do refute it. It doesn’t come close to evolution’s level of proven, but it is at the level theory.

DJ wrote: That's the definition of "scientific theory".

I know. Definitions seemed to be the problem here, so I supplied one. It seems we agree that evolution is a valid theory, but not that String theory is. I can’t argue for String Theory other than pointing to PBS shows and a few websites and other “authority” arguments. In this case, I’m happy referring to them.

DJ wrote: You didn't like my rant about TAE crew's feministic attitudes, and now I'm seemingly a persona non grata in your eyes, and you filter everything I write through a lens of pedantry and overt criticism.

You’re right, I didn’t like your rant. I explained my reasons for that. I haven’t dismissed you or made any final decisions about you. In case you haven’t noticed there isn’t a lot going on at this forum so I appreciate your input. I can’t deny that I have filters, it’s called being human. I do my best to be objective. Sometimes I just have to point out the ridiculous. If you call me “hostile”, I wonder how much experience you have in discussion forums.

P.S. My media time may be limited in the near future. My lack of response will carry no other meaning.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby DjVortex » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:04 pm

Lausten wrote:
DJ wrote: Care to give a concrete example?

How to properly define skepticism
Why Now


I still don't get it. Care to be a bit more concrete?

And the threads you start that don’t get a response might be a clue


Threads I start that don't get a response show that I "just deny what others say"? I don't get it. Please explain. Maybe it's because my native language is not English, but I just can't understand what you are talking about.

And of course people not responding to threads has nothing to do with the fact that there are like 3 people active in this forum. No, it has to do with some odd notion you seem to have about me. That's much more likely. Sure.

If you consider me a persona non grata because I dared to question Holy Feminism, then please get off your high horse. You are not helping in making the atheist community look better than a religion. On the contrary. "He insulted Holy Feminism. He's a persona non grata. Jihad!" Sheesh.

DJ wrote:If a creationist uses the 2nd law of thermodynamics to argue their position, does that make the 2nd law of thermodynamics invalid?

No, only the use of it as an argument against evolution is invalid.


Precisely.

DJ wrote:A "god" is by definition supernatural. How do you physically test a hypothetical supernatural being?

There are many ways to define god. The claims of the writers of the Bible are testable in the sense that we can reduce the odds of their possibility to nearly zero. i.e. if parting the Red Sea as described in Exodus is determined to be not possible today, lacking any other evidence, it is extremely unlikely it ever happened. That’s how we have eliminated the possibility of the God of the Bible.


Please explain to me why, for example, if the parting of the Red Sea were true an accurate, with all the hard evidence in the world to back it up, and with the full unanimous consensus of the entire scientific community, would that be evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible.

That would only be evidence that the parting of the Red Sea happened. It would not tell us anything at all about what caused it. It's not valid evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible (or any god) even if it had happened as described.

And that's my point: Is there anything that could be considered valid evidence for the existence of a god?

DJ wrote:
I wrote:Do you put any stock in string theory at all?


No repeatable tests, no experimental results, no observations, no predictive power, no practical applications... Why should I?.

Because it is the best explanation we have for the structure of the universe. Have you published your paper refuting it?


I don't have the burden of proof, they have. That should be evident even without saying it.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby Lausten » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:33 pm

DJ wrote: "He insulted Holy Feminism. He's a persona non grata. Jihad!" Sheesh.

Just give it a rest, you already lost that argument.

DJ wrote:It would not tell us anything at all about what caused it.

Right, but we're working on proving a negative. We're working against people who won't take the burden of proof, so we proceed as we have.

DJ wrote:I don't have the burden of proof, they have. That should be evident even without saying it.

I'm sure they accept they have the burden of proof to continue to prove String Theory. If they didn't, they would stop experimenting. Compare that to evolution. There is no major drive to prove evolution anymore. The theory is used to prove other things. There is no official body that declares some worthy of the word "theory" or not. But, really, do I go with Brian Greene or some guy on a forum?

I agree that String Theory could be proven wrong, it probably will be replaced by something else. If it does, it won't be because "It's not backed up by evidence, repeatable tests, predictive power or anything at all." There will be evidence, tests and predictions that demonstrate where it is wrong, and better evidence, tests and predictions will replace it.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby DjVortex » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:00 pm

Lausten wrote:Just give it a rest, you already lost that argument.


Really nice way of trolling someone. I'll have to remember that one.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby BahRayMew » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:43 pm

Lausten> Stop trolling. You start out at your second post with an ad hominem and then proceed to drive that train into a hole.

"You just deny what other people say" is so stupid that I'm not even going to bother about being polite in telling you that it's stupid. DJ told you exactly why he doesn't accept your argument. Your attitude really needs adjustment here.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby BahRayMew » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:58 pm

As for the actual discussion, I regard the word "supernatural" as a bit of a nonsense word with an unclear grab-bag of meanings. There are reasons for this that I think are already apparent to those reading this thread.

For me a "god" is merely a sufficiently powerful person able to inspire awe and reverence. When you boil it down, that all any god ever was. It doesn't matter which god you're talking about. It's a bit flippant as a definition, but I cannot really see that most fictitious gods merit any special distinction from mere mortals who managed to get themselves taken seriously as gods too. If they're not persons, than a god is not a god, but merely a force of nature.

So yes, you could prove the existence a "god" to me. This is unlikely since people like to append additional impossible claims which define the godhood of tangible figures like Jesus or Caesar. So naturally, the impossibility of these claims disqualify this person from being a god on the theist's own terms.

In addition, even if existence were proven, my worship of such a person would be a separate argument altogether.
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby Lausten » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:08 pm

BahRay wrote:Lausten> Stop trolling. You start out at your second post with an ad hominem and then proceed to drive that train into a hole.

"You just deny what other people say" is so stupid that I'm not even going to bother about being polite in telling you that it's stupid. DJ told you exactly why he doesn't accept your argument. Your attitude really needs adjustment here.

Some new definition of troll I’m not familiar with. I make no misrepresentations. It is my opinion that DJVortex rarely accepts arguments counter to his opinion. You can disagree with that, but it is not name calling. Calling me “hostile” and bringing up past arguments and making assumptions about my motives, that would be ad hominem.

Besides defending my integrity, I have also been addressing his refusal to accept String Theory as a valid theory. That is on the topic. My answer was, if through the investigations of String Theory (or whatever physics), instead of finding only non-sentient particles, some sentient being was found in the 7th dimension or something that we could communicate with, and that being started explaining things about where the universe came from, and we could verify them, that would be pretty close to something called god. Ideally it would also tell Romney to retire, that would pretty much seal the deal for me.

So, what did you think of my statement “If we can't come to some agreement on these terms, then there isn't much point in discussing it.” and my follow-up that it is part of the Socratic method?

Some of examples of DJ’s obstinance:

DJ wrote:You can't even prove your own existence mathematically, how could you ever prove someone else's, much less that of a supernatural entity?

This is a philosophical statement of “you can’t prove anything”. Obviously. I know we start with assumptions, since we don’t know everything, that’s how we proceed with science. Saying that means we can’t describe the universe with physics is ridiculous.

DJ wrote:But I still don't understand why they consider faith without evidence a good and desirable thing. What's their rationale?
http://www.ironchariots.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4335&sid=be87ed7ea6e8c6d2845d31597ebc7ee4&sid=be87ed7ea6e8c6d2845d31597ebc7ee4#p19570
You’re asked about people being irrational then asked for a rational explanation.

DJ wrote:That's certainly a necessary, but not a sufficient property of proper, valid evidence.
http://www.ironchariots.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4327&sid=be87ed7ea6e8c6d2845d31597ebc7ee4&sid=be87ed7ea6e8c6d2845d31597ebc7ee4#p19344
I think I gave a pretty standard of “evidence” here. Never did figure out what you were looking for.

http://www.ironchariots.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4326&sid=be87ed7ea6e8c6d2845d31597ebc7ee4&sid=be87ed7ea6e8c6d2845d31597ebc7ee4#p19331
This one isn’t quite so bad, and if it weren’t for the others, I wouldn’t mention it.

And of course http://www.ironchariots.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4311&sid=be87ed7ea6e8c6d2845d31597ebc7ee4 where he attempts to defend the indefensible
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Re: Is definitive proof for the existence of God even possib

Postby DjVortex » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:25 am

I think your problem is that you get offended if people disagree with you or do not accept your answers/opinions at face value. It seems to go something like this:

"What would convince you of the existence of a god?"
"If eg. string theory proved unambiguously the existence of a god, I would accept it."
"I wouldn't. I don't consider string theory a valid scientific theory at all because it lacks evidence."
"You are a jerk! You never accept other people's answers! Me mad! Grrr!"

I'm sorry but I have had it with that kind of attitude. I'll start just ignoring you. That way you won't have to get annoyed by me disagreeing with something you write.
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