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I got into a fb discussion with someone and this is his argument.
The "existence" of a god is wholly dependent on the definition that we ascribe to the word "god." Humans have traditionally assigned that which is unknown to a god (wind, fire, life, etc.). As science has evolved, we have transferred the meaning of the unknown to a vocabulary of known, reproducible, human experiences, mathematics. It is possible to ascribe a definition to the word god that makes god scientifically provable. It is also possible to ascribe a definition to the word god that makes god scientifically impossible, if not improbable. The we can prove the possibility of creating both hypothesis results in a duality...such duality being a common occurrence of quantum systems...Schrödinger's cat is both alive and dead (a quantum superposition) until it is observed. Likewise, we may conclude that God is a superposition that exists and does not exist...until we discover/observe the result. Q.E.D. It is not silly.

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19 comments

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1

Sorry, but it seems like he is trying to mix quantum mechanics into an ontological argument. It's kinda nonsense. Like mixing light and a recipe for salsa - two totally different things.

towkneed Level 7 Mar 10, 2019
1

I think therefore I am and what I think is

1

Why would you ever argue the existence of god?
Waste of time

2

Assuming there is a God, I don't think he would care one fig whether people "believe in him" or think that He exists or does not exist. I do think He would care that some people use (misuse) him to abuse and use other people. I do think he would care that some people use and abuse this marvelous creation we live in. The whole question of the existence of God is beyond us as is infinite knowledge of the here and now and the extent of the universe or universes. Some people find it hard to live in the unknowable. Is it pride or ego? But accepting the unknowable is fundamental to attaining real knowledge and wisdom. (The two are not the same.) Happiness and our survival hangs on recognizing and accepting the unknowable.

accepting that there are some things that are unknowable is one thing. accepting the unknowable, as you put it, is another. i agree we must accept that some things are unknowable, even while encouraging those who seek that knowledge to go for it; what i may not know, a scientist with talent in that direction may discover. but to just accept the unknowable? that's like "god works in mysterious ways." that i will never do.

g

@genessa Thank you for comment. Think of it this way: And this applies to scientists as well as the rest of us. When you proceed under the unknowable there are no limits. You your thoughts are not circuscribed by any preconceived notions. You are not trying to prove what you think you already know. You are totally open to accept things that reveal themselves. But when you are locked into the finite your horizons disappear. You are now limited. Even when you have proved your theory when you are aware of the vastness of things you can recognize things you missed and can go further in your quest. But finite proof can lock you into slippery mistakes. So by accepting the unknowable you are open minded. Your horizon is infinite. You are part of the vastness of everything instead of being in the limited.

@think-beyond sorry, but my statement stands. accepting the concept of the unknowable does what you say. accepting the unknowable itself does not. it leads to belief in tooth fairies and deities.

g

@genessa All I can say is that if I taught my students with preconceived idea they would not progress. I am constantly finding "them" and am then able to enhance their individuality. I live by this as did my husband who put the first space crafts on the moon.

@think-beyond okay you didn't understand what i said... twice. i am not talking about preconceived ideas. but twice is enough. if you didn't get it the first two times, you won't get it a third. and by the way, i taught my students to find things out for themselves and not accept what they were told without questioning. i didn't tell them to blindly accept the unknowable, which is the only way to accept it.

g

3

The "existence" of a god is wholly dependent on the definition that we ascribe to the word "god." Humans have traditionally assigned that which is unknown to a god (wind, fire, life, etc.). As science has evolved, we have transferred the meaning of the unknown to a vocabulary of known, reproducible, human experiences, mathematics.

All true.

It is possible to ascribe a definition to the word god that makes god scientifically provable.

Not true.
It has not been done nor is there a conceivable way to do it so saying it's possible is unjustified. AFAIK, there has never been any definition of god(s) which has been amenable to experimentation. One can experiment on the claims of texts about gods (prayer, miracles, etc) but ultimately those are claims made by people about gods and not solid, universal definitions of what god(s) are or want.

So the front part of the argument is sound but the premise that it's possible to make a scientifically provable definition of god(s) is unsound until someone is able to do so...

1

His argument is bullshit. He relies on needless complexity and obscure references to obfuscate the point. If he had a solid argument, he could state it simply.

For example: The speed of light is constant to anyone viewing it regardless of their own motion relative to the light source.

That's Einstein's principle of light speed at its essential core. The genius level mathematics that support it would give us all a brain aneurysm so the more complex the idea, the more useful it is to simplify it for mass consumption. In fact, Einstein himself famously said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

The bottom line is; to believe in god you have to accept as reality an invisible magical being who lives in the sky -- a concept with zero evidence to support it. QED -- god is most likely not real.

1

If this was his response, I actually like it.

But it requires reifying an imagined being. Not the same thing as a cat in a box (Schrodinger’s example). Is that where the Cat in the Hat came from? But I digress. I do that!

2

I think the orthodox definition of God is "any being that is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent." At least that is so in my field. Of course, anyone can use the term differently, but they are then expected to define their special usage of the term so the conversation can proceed from there without ambiguity.

Wallace Level 6 Mar 7, 2019

I can see where that definition might work in a practical sense for many discussions, however, IMO in an ultimate sense it doesn’t say much. All it says is that God is not limited by the parameters of our everyday perception of reality—it doesn’t really define God, except to say that God is what is beyond our normal realm of existence.

Maybe to a fish God is what is beyond the water, A theistic fish would say that “Beyond the Water” is the divine creator who sustains and provides. An agnostic fish would say that BTW is unknown and unknowable. An atheist fish would say there’s ZERO evidence for btw(s) and that he is withholding belief in such entities, and that the burden of proof is on the fish making a positive assertion. A few spiritually oriented fish might report having leapt out of the water and gaining brief glimmers of BTW, but they would be derided by the others as offering anecdotal evidence based on superstition and wu.

Maybe God is what we don’t know, if there be such.

@WilliamFleming In my post I should have said the orthodox THEISTIC concept of God is defined by the three ”omni”-s, and I’m pretty sure that’s correct—i.e., it holds for orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Accordingly, people are theists, atheists, and agnostics according to whether they believe there exists such a being. Of course, there are unorthodox Jews, Christians, and Muslims who believe a supreme being exists but conceive it differently, and there are polytheists and other forms of supernaturalism. So this definition is narrower and—as you point out—is more practical in some discussions.
One problem I have with your suggestion (in an earlier post) to use Ultimate Reality is that I have no idea of what that is and, hence, I don’t know what would count as evidence for or against its existence (unless you “define it into existence” by saying “it is whatever is most real”.) This nearly reminds me of Paul Tillich’s expression that “God is the ground of being” or sometimes “--the ground and abyss of being”—whatever that means!
I like your fish illustration!

@Wallace Thanks for your reply. I don’t actually say that Ultimate Reality is God, but I’ve seen it described that way. I am so befuddled, ignorant, and overwhelmed with the basic enigmas of existence and consciousness that I have no coherent ideas to add to any discussion about God.

I only refer to “Ultimate” Reality because reality as perceived by us humans is an illusion IMO. We are looking at shadows but something is causing those shadows. We consciously create OUR reality, but in truth there is only the one reality, or nature if you’d prefer.

I don’t argue over the existence of God. From a cosmic perspective, existence, along with creation, destruction, death, immortality, heaven, and afterlife are all meaningless concepts used by us pea-brained humans within our dream world. I base that on my interpretation of “Reality is not What it Seems” by Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli.

From that perspective the “omnis” don’t seem all that grand or impressive as characteristics. To be everywhere at once and at all times fits right in with modern physics. Since there are a finite number of granules of space, each of the size of a planck length, then “knowing” the state of those finite particles of space would seem natural, but you might have to tinker with the meaning of “know”. Being all-powerful WITHIN OUR DREAM WORLD is not inconceivable but there has to be intention. As an analogy, within system parameters a programmer creating a computer game has total control over his simulated environment.

We organisms have conscious awareness and intention, and on the level of Ultimate Reality might collectively be “God” or an extension or expression of Universal Consciousness.

@WilliamFleming I think we pretty well agree. Certainly I am so "..befuddled, ignorant, and overwhelmed with the basic enigmas of existence and consciousness..." that I have nothing new to contribute to the discussion. Peace.

4

This sounds akin to the fallacy of moving the goal posts. Part of having a rational conversation about these things at all is making sure everyone is talking about the same thing to begin with. Using physical things to describe god is going to result in a completely different conversation than the one you'd have with the person who says "scientific instruments cannot explain god because he's not of the physical world."

6

using semantics to prove something physical is ridiculous. you can prove grapes are marsupials by renaming all kangaroos grapes. you can prove that arsenic isn't poisonous by renaming it milk (and everyone who dies from ingesting it is just lactose intolerant, right?) you can't prove anything about god by redefining the word. all you can prove is that people will do anything to prove their points.

g

genessa Level 8 Mar 7, 2019
2

Say what?

6

Because of all the confusion brought on by the term “God”, I prefer not to say that word. It doesn’t bother me for others to speak of God, but I prefer to say Ultimate Reality.

Reality is just reality. The “ultimate” part is only because our ordinary perception of reality is only symbolic. The real reality is beyond our comprehension.

Ultimate Reality is not supernatural—it is nature.

4

The peace of mind I get from being an atheist comes, in part, from never engaging with God seekers. They are a waste of my energy.

3

I generally don’t gravitate toward worldviews that lean on quantum mechanics for an explanation, because I doubt that non-physicists really understand its implications for the macro world, especially when the most famous physicists in the world claim not to understand it themselves. I’d rather lean on a historical explanation.

For example, before the germ theory of disease was proposed, people spoke of patients as being possessed by demons when they became ill. Now that we know better however, we don't tell people, Nah you're not ill, there is no such thing as demons! We tell them instead, the demon that is inhabiting your body is better described as a microorganism... and yes, it makes you sick. Something real was happening, just as the primitives knew, they just didn't know the deeper nature of that thing.

Likewise, primitive people have always understood, intuitively at least, that the combined forces of the universe are, collectively, more powerful than they are. They knew that those collective energies created them, and would someday reclaim them. They knew that those collective forces provided everything they needed for sustenance and survival, and sometimes threw them curveballs like tornadoes, and famine. They named this abstraction God, and generated all manner of superstition and ritual to try to appease this entity and cope with its overwhelming power. They got a lot of the details wrong. Many still do. But telling them that "God" doesn't exist is observably false, just like telling sick people they aren't sick because demons don't exist.

That thing that unscientific people refer to as God most certainly does exist, if anything at all exists. Its nature isn't what they think it is, but it is very real. Reality itself is the "entity" they are referring to, and if we don't like the old word they used for it, then we will have to find another one, in the same way we replaced "demons" with 'microorganisms." But in the meantime, we can easily just do the translation in our head when we hear the word God, we know they are referring to reality, no matter how unscientifically they may envision it. There is no benefit in telling them they are crazy. You will never get them to believe reality does not exist. You don't believe it yourself.

skado Level 8 Mar 6, 2019
3

That argument has got more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.

4

Sounds like a very "physicsy" way to say: 'You can't prove my god doesn't exist.'

Which is true; we can't. That doesn't make it a possibility worth orienting our lives around and it definitely does not mean we should treat the goatherders' guide to the galaxy as anything other than a fairy tale.

MLinoge Level 7 Mar 6, 2019

Actually, science would create a hypothesis and then as part of that construct the null hypothesis — Namely god does not exist — and then test the hypothesis that god does exist using valid criteria and deciding if that met the required degree of confidence. If they did not get significance, then they would have to accept the null hypothesis. If it met significance, then they would reject the null hypothesis there by affrinmin the hypothesis with a confidence interval of some percentage.

@ToolGuy " If they did not get significance, then they would have to accept the null hypothesis."

  • No, that's when they move the goalpost. Sometimes to an entirely different sport.
    There will always be another height, dept or dimensional barrier that "gods" can hide behind. Or, s/he/it has simply used those "god powers" to make reality appear as if there was no god - as a test of faith.
    One of my least favorite religious responses.

If we could fight faith with facts, there would be no religion now.

1

I don't get it about the cat being both dead and alive at the same time. I do not get "brains in a vat" or the "multiverse" or so many other ignorant ideas that have no logic and no evidence. Certainly some of science must be speculative. All of god is speculative and then some.

Cat dead or alive is quantum physics related to both particle and wave theory.

@ToolGuy I know, but do we have evidence of that that is demonstrable?

@DenoPenno we do for real cats but not imaginary ones.

5

Because something can be defined does not make it real. A definition could be produced that would make a rainbow-shitting unicorn scientifically testable. Not provable, mind you; because science doesn't "prove". Science merely gives us the most likely explanation based on observed data. Also, because something contains/produces a duality does not make it scientifically sound. There are too many leaps in this argument that are simply not logically sound.

Exactly.

5

The existence of anything depends on how you define it. So not much is being said there.

I regard whoever made that argument as failing to use his brain.

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