Hitting a baseball? and a couple other arguments

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Hitting a baseball? and a couple other arguments

Postby zntneo » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:22 pm

in the past three days I have had at least one person to person debate with a Christian. I had a few arguments that I'd like others opinion on.

I was in an argument yesterday with somebody. He made this claim that statistical probability says that it is virtually impossible for us to be able to hit a baseball. This was given as an argument , I think, against the notion of having evidence for one's beliefs, since we can't even show that we should be able to hit a baseball. Can anyone make sense of this argument explain it to me? does physics/statistics say that it is practically impossible for us to be able to hit a baseball?

Someone tried to say on Tuesday that basically anything short of absolute certainty in a belief requires faith to bring it up to absolute certainty. For instance, when I sit on a block of concrete, because I am not absolutely certain that it will hold me. I require faith to bring my belief up to absolute certainty.

I also was given a slight difference in the cosmological argument. It goes like this:

  1. Everything we know has a cause
  2. the universe is something we know
  3. therefore the universe has a cause
  4. God is not something we can know
  5. therefore, that cause is God


I realize this is still an argument from ignorance but I am curious if there's anything else wrong with it.

also I was wondering if someone could explain to me how it follows from the fact that God is a perfect being that any slight against him is deserving of infinite punishment even if it's only one thing in your entire life.
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Postby anthonyvh » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:44 am

He made this claim that statistical probability says that it is virtually impossible for us to be able to hit a baseball. This was given as an argument , I think, against the notion of having evidence for one's beliefs, since we can't even show that we should be able to hit a baseball.


As someone who understands statistics, my response to this kind of argument is "put up or shut up". Show me the data. This is a poorly disguised combination of argument from ignorance and argument from authority.

Someone tried to say on Tuesday that basically anything short of absolute certainty in a belief requires faith to bring it up to absolute certainty.


This argument only applies if one requires absolute certainty to take action or believe something. Humans act on imperfect information at every instant of their lives. I can't be absolutely certain that when I type "R" on my keyboard that the key is in fact labeled "R" before I hit it, but I'm pretty damn certain. Second, what properties does "faith" have that elevate a claim to absolute certainty? I could probably brainwash myself into thinking my key says "S" instead of "R", but if I inspect it, I'm going to bet (the real me, not the brainwashed me, lol) that it's going to say "R". Pure wish thinking to think otherwise.

# Everything we know has a cause
# the universe is something we know
# therefore the universe has a cause
# God is not something we can know
# therefore, that cause is God


Sigh. So many problems...

What does it mean that we "know the universe"? This is incoherent. What does it mean?

If "God is not something that we know", then how can we know anything about him, including if he exists or not?

What transpires beyond the event horizon of a black hole is something we cannot know either. Is that the cause of the universe?
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Postby Edward » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:11 am

Statistically speaking, it is practically impossible to hit a baseball.

How do we know? We take the size of the universe, compare it to the size of a baseball and a bat, and we go from there.

Except that hitting baseballs is usually not done in a playing field the size of the universe. The baseball diamond kind of reduces that impossibility.

Add onto that the fact that the baseball is typically thrown in the general direction of the person who intends to hit the ball, the odds get better. Add that the person is actively trying to hit the ball, not merely swinging in a random direction, it improves some more. Add the practice... it gets down to a number about the size of... baseball games.

For his Five Step Program to Admitting You Have A Belief In God, he skipped a few steps.

1. Everything we know has a cause
2. the universe is something we know
3. therefore the universe has a cause
3a. the cause of the universe cannot be known
3b. causes that cannot be known imply another cause that cannot be known
3c. the causes of causes that cannot be known are an unknowable being
3d. we can know about unknowable beings
4. God is not something we can know
4a. because he told us so
5. therefore, that cause is God
5a. or else you're going to hell
5b. and I'll gleefully watch you suffer for all eternity
5c. you atheist bastards
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Re: Hitting a baseball? and a couple other arguments

Postby Sans_Deity » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:59 pm

zntneo wrote:
  1. Everything we know has a cause
  2. the universe is something we know
  3. therefore the universe has a cause
  4. God is not something we can know
  5. therefore, that cause is God


Ignoring the content for a moment, it's structurally invalid. The structure leads to a different conclusion...

  1. Everything we know has a cause
  2. the universe is something we know
  3. therefore the universe has a cause

That's the end of one argument. It is valid, but potentially unsound (we'll need to clarify definitions to be sure).

The second argument does not follow from the first, but we can correct that:

  1. Everything we cannot know is the cause of something we know (hidden premise)
  2. God is not something we can know
  3. therefore, that God is the cause of something we know


The hidden premise is unsound...and even if it were sound, we still can't connect this argument to the previous argument, because he has no subject-predicate link for 'cause'. If we restructure his argument, it looks like this:

P1 Everything we know has a cause
P2 Everything is caused by something we don't know
P3 We know the universe
C1 The universe had a cause (from P1 and P3)
C2 The cause of the universe is something we don't know (from C1 and P2)
P4 God is something we don't know
C3 God is the cause of the universe (from C2 and P4)

P2 is false, rendering this all unsound (some things are caused by things we know). C2 is therefore not necessarily true.

C3 is therefore not necessarily true.

However, there's an additional problem... P4 makes use of equivocation. God isn't "something we don't know" it's "one of many things we don't know"...for clarity: We could substitute... 'Falsmbka is something we don't know" and the argument would be the same.

Why did I waste time on this?

/sigh
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:31 pm

Sans asks;
Why did I waste time on this?


for the same reason men climb mountains.


zntneo said:
Someone tried to say on Tuesday that basically anything short of absolute certainty in a belief requires faith to bring it up to absolute certainty. For instance, when I sit on a block of concrete, because I am not absolutely certain that it will hold me. I require faith to bring my belief up to absolute certainty.


Such an action requires no "faith" whatsoever. Humans have the capacity to learn. Experience, observation, understanding of natural law / the physical universe around us provide a basis for making sound assumptions.

Thus, it doesn't take faith to understand and thus assume with a high degree of confidence that concrete blocks will hold ones weight without crumbling; that they are stable owing to their flat surfaces and thus will not tip; etc..

That same high degree of confidence, based on experience, repeated observation, and understanding of the movement within the solar system gives me a high degree of certainity that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. No "faith" required.

Faith (in theological terms, as opposed to the vernacular) is belief in the absence of understanding, evidence, observation, repeatability, etc.

Faith is antithetical to high degrees of confidence, certainity, expectation borne of repeated observation, experience, and knowledge of natural laws and the properties of solids, liquids, gases, animal behavior, chemical compounds, the cosmos, et al.
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Postby zntneo » Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:37 pm

zntneo said:
Someone tried to say on Tuesday that basically anything short of absolute certainty in a belief requires faith to bring it up to absolute certainty. For instance, when I sit on a block of concrete, because I am not absolutely certain that it will hold me. I require faith to bring my belief up to absolute certainty.


Such an action requires no "faith" whatsoever. Humans have the capacity to learn. Experience, observation, understanding of natural law / the physical universe around us provide a basis for making sound assumptions.

Thus, it doesn't take faith to understand and thus assume with a high degree of confidence that concrete blocks will hold ones weight without crumbling; that they are stable owing to their flat surfaces and thus will not tip; etc..

That same high degree of confidence, based on experience, repeated observation, and understanding of the movement within the solar system gives me a high degree of certainity that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. No "faith" required.
[/quote]

I basically told him the same thing. His point was that any "degree of confidence" short of 100% requires faith to bring it to that point.
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Postby dromedaryhump1 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:00 pm

I basically told him the same thing. His point was that any "degree of confidence" short of 100% requires faith to bring it to that point.


That's not a "point', it's denial of the difference between experience/ knowledge/proven repeatabijlity, etc., and blind belief.

These people typically pick up these baseball analogies, and faith platitudes, etc. from christian websites. The typical unsophisticated, and unquestioning christian reads it and says: "Oh wow!! Exactly!!" and internalizes it as an undeniable/irrefutable truth.

The fact that it can be blunted/debunked by anyone with a functioning brain stem never occurs to them. Any reasoned rebuttal can't possibly be true, afterall, they read it on a Christian site and you are but a godless heathen.

I reccomend you tell him he's an asshat, and move on to someone who has a higher degree of comprehension and/or intellectual honesty. You're wasting your time.
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Postby zntneo » Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:23 am

I was curious if anyone had any comments about the last sentence I wrote.
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Postby Edward » Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:25 am

zntneo wrote:I was curious if anyone had any comments about the last sentence I wrote.


Well, from my perspective it seems that the worst thing you could ever possibly do in the eyes of god is to be born. You have to spend your whole life making up for it, and no matter what you do you never live it down.

The answer to your question's pretty simple though: god has issues.
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Postby donnyton » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:33 pm

I've studied a bit of statistics and you can take a fairly technical approach to this.

Most people oversimplify probabilities of two things as A x B, so the probability of hitting a baseball is the probability of the bat and the ball being in the same place at the same time. That probability is virtually 0.

However, you can only do that for two events that are independent, i.e., don't affect each other.

So if you randomly walked the streets swinging a bat, chances are you'd never hit a baseball (though you might hit some people). But in general, baseball bats are only swung when a baseball is present, and baseballs are only pitched when baseball bats are ready to hit.

That dramatically brings the probability down.


An analogous situation would be the fact that given the size of a bullet, it's statistically impossible to hit a bulls-eye. But in general, bullets are only fired with targets nearby, and usually fired by people trained in firearms. It's not any random person firing any random gun at any random position.
"To say that it's not okay to believe in something that may or may not be true is ridiculous. Some people like to have that mystical fantasy in the world. It adds flavor."
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Postby jaban » Fri May 08, 2009 7:04 am

Let's include the missing premises to make this valid:
  1. Everything we know has a cause.
    Every phenomenon we observe came into existence through the action of another phenomenon which already existed.
  2. The universe is something we know.
    The universe is a collection of phenomena we have observed to exist, and so we can say the universe exists.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
    Therefore, even if we do not know what it was, we can conclude that there was a pre-existing phenomenon that caused the universe to come into existence.
  4. Missing premise: God exists, and is the god of the person making this argument.
  5. God is not something we can know.
    We cannot understand God.
  6. Missing premise: God is the only thing we cannot understand.
  7. Missing premise: If we don't currently know what phenomenon caused something to come into existence, it can only have been something we cannot understand.
  8. Therefore, that cause is God.
    Therefore, God caused the universe to come into existence.

And now we have a more valid argument. But, of course, the premises are not true. They can't go including premises you obviously won't accept, now, can they? :D

Fun point: The first premise is not a law of existence, it's an inference we make due to the fact that every time we look for a cause for some phenomenon we can't explain, we always find another phenomenon that caused it. The theist fails to mention that the cause we find is always something natural, and so one could add a qualifier to the premise ("everything we know has a natural cause"), changing the first conclusion ("the universe has a natural cause").
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Postby eimerian » Fri May 08, 2009 9:48 pm

I basically told him the same thing. His point was that any "degree of confidence" short of 100% requires faith to bring it to that point.


And I totally agree with him. Note the last words in this sentence "to bring it to that point". That means that faith is acting like 100% degree of confidence whenever you have less. Im happy with this definition.



1. Everything we know has a cause
2. the universe is something we know
3. therefore the universe has a cause
4. God is not something we can know
5. therefore, that cause is God


Besides all the other things wrong with this that were already pointed out isnt there an equivocation fallacy somewhere in there?

"I know X" can mean two different things.
a) Im aware that X exists.
b) I fully understand X.

In line 1 of the argument its know-b. It means "All the things we understand have a cause."
In line 2 its know-a. "We are aware that this universe exist" We dont fully understand it though.

So lets use the same definition of knowing in the first two premises and see what happens:

1. All the things we understand have a cause.
2. We dont understand the universe.
3. Therefore the universe might or might not have a cause we have no idea. :wink:


The "know" in line 3 is know-b again. Usually theists claim to "know-a" God but they will gladly admit that they dont understand his mysterious ways.
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