Haven’t blogged for a bit, so I’m storming back with a long one. In addition to that, I have a larger than average blog post for your delectation.
My girlfriend and her friend ended up talking about God, and my name got mentioned – presumably because I’m just that awesome. My GF, as someone who’s pretty much had her faiths eroded by my niggling arguments (“Shall we get some wine? Also, why would an all-powerful God allow evil to occur?”) wanted her friend to talk to me on the subject. She prepared a short argument and I emailed her my response.
Something I wasn’t aware of until after I’d emailed her was that she is, apparently, very stubborn and will never let go of her beliefs. Which renders debate more or less meaningless, but hey – who knows?
“What is sense? Why can’t open minded thoughts help you accept a possibility of a greater power/energy source named as god?”
I think my GF gave you the wrong impression of my perspective on this issue. I accept the POSSIBILITY of God, or a higher power, simply because it would be scientifically hypocritical to state with certainty that it could NOT exist. Until every iota of the universe has been catalogued, which is almost certainly something we will never do, we cannot posture with certainty on such matters. To state something CANNOT exist is a faith-based position, albeit anthetical to faith IN a God, and as such is a position not often adopted by intellectuals.
So, I can accept the possibility. But with a complete lack of any positive proof, there is no point considering it further. An inability to disprove something is not adequate proof FOR it, otherwise you would have to give equal credence to absolutely every unfalsifiable hypothesis anyone ever makes. Along with your concept of God, you’d have to grant the equal chance of everyone else’s concept of God, along with all supernatural claims. This is without even going into the logical paradoxii that arguments for God tend to invoke, which I’ll go into a bit later..
“Why can’t there be a god?”
I’d need to know more detail about your concept of God to answer this. However, in general, God creates more questions than it answers. Simply using God as a catch-all answer to the mysteries of the universe is unrealistic, because you then have to explain God. You end up with paradoxii of omnipotence, problems of free will, problems of omnicognisance. So tell me more about your perception of God – is it conscious? Insensate? Does it have a specific purpose? What powers does it possess? Is it immortal/eternal/invincible? Is it limited in any sense?
Until I have more detail, though, the simple answer is there COULD be a God – but it’s so vastly unlikely, so internally inconsistent and contradictory by most human accounts, that there’s no point in pursuing it. As we on the internet say, pictures or it didn’t happen. The onus of proof is ALWAYS on the other side to substantiate God – NOT on me to disprove.
“By opening your mind and thoughts you accept possibilities, by accepting possibilities you become more knowledgeable, and by being more knowledgeable you are naturally more intelligent.”
Accepting possibilities is fine. It’s what drives scientific endeavour and progress. But you don’t actually become more knowledgeable until you have proved these possibilities as something workable. There’s some famous quote, I think from Richard Dawkins, which is more or less “Be open-minded, but not so open that your brain falls out.” Wondering how things work and having a spirit of enquiry keeps discovery constant; however, that is no reason to hang on to the impossible or the unworkable. The historical precedent is that poorly understood natural phenomena attributed to the supernatural (for example, the various cultural pantheons to whom natural forces and processes were attributed via individual deities, as opposed to monotheism where a single entity controls everything – this seems to be what you’re postulating) eventually become explained by scientific means. The age of simply hypothesising something which sounds about right is long gone. The age of empiricism demands proof, repeatable observation, before a possibility becomes workable. Otherwise the whole thing simply collapses in disarray under the weight of countless “possibilities” which can only be accepted because they cannot be completely disproved.
That is the nature of science, of course. It operates on inductive reasoning, on extending an assumption from a necessarily limited sample group. However, deductive reasoning – which begins from an axiomatic statement and is thus considered to be more reliable than inductive logic – is never grounded in the real world. Only logical and mathematical constructs can be axiomatic. A famous deduction is “All are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal.” However, this deduction relies on inductive empiricism for its axiom. The only way of looking at the world and the universe is by the scientific method; only abstracts, like logic and maths (human constructions) produce axiomatically true results – and these results are definitionally divorced from the real world.
“Where did the first energy source come from?”
We’re working on it
We don’t know. The origins of the universe are pretty trippy to consider. However, given the aforementioned historical precedent of supernatural explanations being superceded, it’s reasonable to assume that we will eventually know – and not knowing NOW doesn’t mean we will NEVER know. Also, not knowing the origins of the universe is comparatively simple when compared to using God as an explanation and then trying to work out how God created itself, or all the other attendant problems with using God to explain anything.
“Do humans have any energy source beyond physics? Why? Why not?”
If human beings have an energy source beyond physics it’s pointless to even speculate as it necessarily wouldn’t be something we could even detect. If we could detect it, it would be an aspect of known physical laws and not metaphysical or supernatural in nature. So, no, humans do not have an energy source beyond physics because the question doesn’t have any actual meaning – you’re asking to verify something which definitionally, as soon as it is verified, STOPS being beyond physics.
“Bear in mind that without self-evidence there is none. With no evidence, you rely on belief. Therefore proof is belief. If belief is your source of proof why can’t you believe in god and use belief as proof.” (I nearly pooped myself when I read that argument.)
That’s a little too much of a logical leap though. Proof is NOT belief. Proof is proof. Belief implies some kind of dependence on the believer for continuation, and gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. Scientists don’t rely on belief or faith, and neither do the things the scientific method discovers.
Your argument dictates that, if belief is a proof, EVERYTHING is real and possible. Jeremy, the unicorn inside Jupiter who controls gravity (but only in this solar system) is real because I have belief in him – and thus proof. And, of course, the concept of God that I believe in that forces all possible Gods to NOT exist (including yours) must be real, because I have belief.
Belief is not the source of proof for scientists, or for me. Repeatable, observable testing and evidence is proof. Proof that is consistent with all previously gathered research. Using belief as proof not only invites a great deal of confusion, it’s demonstrably untrue, and it indicates a lack of any REAL proof for claims. If your proof is belief, you are admitting that you have no concrete evidence on which to go on.
So now, we wait . . .