# A defence of my atheistic certainty...

Agerg
Spirituality 16 Nov '11 22:51
1. Agerg
The 'edit'or
16 Nov '11 22:518 edits
...that YOUR god does not exist.

Consider the following thought experiment:

Suppose you're making your way home with a friend, he
or she if you like
has the last £20 between you both (half of which is yours)
or the equivalent in another currency
and it will cost you this for a cab ride home (otherwise it's a 10 mile walk). Setting aside all notions of plausibility, ability to pay, or mistrust, etc.., suppose a wealthy traveller offers your friend the following one-time-only gamble:

For £20 your friend will be given a box to hold onto, inside of which is a ticket bearing some number from 1 to 5. He then has to choose a number from 1 to 5 and if the number he chooses is the same as the number inside the box (which he gets to open after declaring a number) he and yourself will both be rewarded with £500. Otherwise he loses the £20 and you both walk home. Suppose further that without consulting you your friend siezes upon this opportunity and pays the £20, whatever number he has chosen you no doubt realise there's a 4 in 5 chance you'll be walking home but you definitely aren't certain this will happen, and as it's a such a good pay-off if he wins perhaps you're prepared to take the hit if he doesn't.

Now suppose a different gamble, with the same box and the same fee, your friend has to choose 1 out of 25 numbers (the box of course will contain one of these numbers), if he wins he gets £5000.
Again without waiting for your advice he pays the £20. Though a 24 in 25 chance of walking home shouldn't seem too appealing, and the pessimistic side of you might be wishing you'd stopped him perhaps excitement may prevail. At any rate you certainly aren't wholly convinced you're walking home.

Now suppose he paid the £20 for a choice of 1 out of 100 numbers (reward = £20,000)...
Now suppose he paid the £20 for a choice of 1 out of 500 numbers (reward = £100,000)...
Now suppose he paid the £20 for a choice of 1 out of 2000 numbers (reward = £400,000)...

.
.
.

Now suppose he paid the £20 for a choice of 1 out of a 1000,000,000,000,000 numbers (reward = £200,000,000,000,000,000 - probably more money than you'll ever be able spend).
Ask yourself how sure you would be in this case that your friend might as well have just burnt the money for all the good this gamble will ever do you (ask yourself also if we had to take the numbers to this extreme); if you're honest, then for all intents and purposes you can be pretty damned certain you're walking home here. Yet in spite of this certainty (and I'm assuming you're sane, or not unreasonably optimistic) it still wouldn't be possible to prove you have already lost - in spite of the fact you 'just know it'.

Now ramp up this thought experiment to make it comparible with the proposition that you chose correctly one god out of potentially infinitely many different gods that could be formulated, couple this with the profound lack of evidence for its existence (as opposed at least to another sort of god's existence say **) and perhaps you can appreciate the depth of certainty I have that you chose incorrectly. That is, in spite of a proof, I can justifiably say that I am certain your god doesn't exist on these grounds.

-------------------------------------------------------
** pre-empting the classic "ah but the universe itself is sufficient evidence!" - since at best this is evidence only for some sort of god (not necessarily yours)
2. 16 Nov '11 23:261 edit
Originally posted by Agerg
...that [b]YOUR god does not exist.

Consider the following thought experiment:

Suppose you're making your way home with a friend, he[hidden]or she if you like[/hidden]has the last £20 between you both (half of which is yours)[hidden]or the equivalent in another currency[/hidden]and it will cost you this for a cab ride home (otherwise it's a 10 mi ably say that I am certain your god doesn't exist on these grounds.[/b]
And this is even before you throw into the mix the fact that some god ideas are inherently logically impossible,
and that you can trace the formation of most if not all of the modern religions through history as they were invented,
with bits and pieces coming from disparate myths to combine to form the gods we see today.

And the fact that if one true god really existed and there were people capable of 'picking up his signals' then they should
all be giving the same messages, anywhere in the world, at any point in history, all converging on one grand truth.
These messages should be clear and unambiguous in any and every language and should reflect the profound and infinite
intellect and wisdom your god is prescribed to have.
However in reality religion hive off and split into ever increasing numbers of sects that increasingly disagree with each other
and no two separate religions agree with each other either.
And the 'messages from god' are confused, open to interpretation, mundane, taudrey, and just plain wrong.

Also there is a complete lack of any need for god.

It's useless as an explanation for anything because it simply moves the mystery from the thing you want to explain to god, which gets you nowhere.
And every instance in history where god was postulated as the reason has hindered progress to actually solving the problem.

It's of no use as a moral guide, as morality is either deductible in which case we can deduce it ourselves, or it's arbitrary, in which case we are still
better off making it up for our selves rather than having someone else's ideas imposed on us. (hint, we can deduce reasons for moral choices, which
means it isn't arbitrary)

There is no evidence or reason to suppose such things as a soul or afterlife exist to which they can act as caretaker or gatekeeper.

The only reason for believing in god and his afterlife left is that some find the idea comforting, which is not a reasonable foundation for a world view.
There are many things it would be nice if they were true but aren't.

And frankly any god/s who demands we worship it/them, with no sound reason or evidence to do so, having 'given' us reasoning abilities, and who will punish
those who don't believe in it/them with eternal torture. Is/are not worth worshipping anyway.
3. Rajk999
Enjoying
16 Nov '11 23:262 edits
Originally posted by Agerg
...that [b]YOUR god does not exist.

Consider the following thought experiment:

Suppose you're making your way home with a friend, he[hidden]or she if you like[/hidden]has the last £20 between you both (half of which is yours)[hidden]or the equivalent in another currency[/hidden]and it will cost you this for a cab ride home (otherwise it's a 10 mi his is evidence only for some sort of god (not necessarily yours)[/b]
You are in effect using probabilities, so the term 'certainty' wont apply.
What you really mean to say is that it is highly unlikely that there is a God in your estimation.
4. 16 Nov '11 23:28
Originally posted by Rajk999
You are in effect probabilities, so the term 'certainty' wont apply.
What you really mean to say is that it is highly unlikely that there is a God in your estimation.
When you get to infinity to 1 on getting it right you have reached something you can confidently claim as certainty.
5. Rajk999
Enjoying
16 Nov '11 23:38
When you get to infinity to 1 on getting it right you have reached something you can confidently claim as certainty.
Of course you can confidently claim anything you like, but there is still a chance however small that you could be wrong.
6. Agerg
The 'edit'or
16 Nov '11 23:41
Originally posted by Rajk999
You are in effect probabilities, so the term 'certainty' wont apply.
What you really mean to say is that it is highly unlikely that there is a God in your estimation.
For all practical purposes - I'm certain.
Indeed it's highly unlikely that next time you fall over you won't float off into the sky (given the proposition that all observations and events pertaining to gravity have been special cases of some different phenomenon) - there is certainly no formal proof that gravity works as we'd expect but I doubt you're anything less than completely certain on this issue.
7. Agerg
The 'edit'or
16 Nov '11 23:441 edit
When you get to infinity to 1 on getting it right you have reached something you can confidently claim as certainty.
This is true - but I'd even go so far that infinity to one is far more than the odds required for certainty (in so much as one can be certain of anything, or at least be able to tell the difference between certainty and negligible doubt)
8. 17 Nov '11 00:00
Originally posted by Agerg
This is true - but I'd even go so far that infinity to one is far more than the odds required for certainty (in so much as one can be certain of anything)
Yes, so long as one isn't using certainty as an abbreviation of absolute certainty.
9. Agerg
The 'edit'or
17 Nov '11 00:051 edit
Yes, so long as one isn't using certainty as an abbreviation of absolute certainty.
As per my edit, for all practical purposes, (given there is an upper bound via which, I assert, one cannot differentiate between absolute certainty and negligibly small doubt) I'm prepared to abuse terminology here (slightly) and say that I am absolutely certain in this respect (and far more certain of this than I am certain that, say, my mother loves me, or I'm not some brain in a vat).
10. Rajk999
Enjoying
17 Nov '11 00:08
Originally posted by Agerg
For all practical purposes - I'm certain.
Indeed it's highly unlikely that next time you fall over you won't float off into the sky (given the proposition that all observations and events pertaining to gravity have been special cases of some different phenomenon) - there is certainly no formal proof that gravity works as we'd expect but I doubt you're anything less than completely certain on this issue.
For practical purposes you dont have all the variables involved in establishing whether or not there is a God.
11. 17 Nov '11 00:09
Originally posted by Agerg
As per my edit, for all practical purposes, (given there is an upper bound via which, I assert, one cannot differentiate between absolute certainty and negligibly small doubt) I'm prepared to abuse terminology here (slightly) and say that I am absolutely certain in this respect (and far more certain of this than I am certain that, say, my mother loves me, or I'm not some brain in a vat).
Indeed if one descends into solipsism then it becomes impossible to assert anything which is decidedly unhelpful.
12. Agerg
The 'edit'or
17 Nov '11 00:091 edit
Originally posted by Rajk999
For practical purposes you dont have all the variables involved in establishing whether or not there is a God.
I never claimed certainty there isn't some sort of god (and observe the baby 'g' there - it's important).
13. 17 Nov '11 00:10
Originally posted by Rajk999
For practical purposes you dont have all the variables involved in establishing whether or not there is a God.
Ahh, but he didn't say A god, he said YOUR god. The distinction is made explicitly clear.
14. Rajk999
Enjoying
17 Nov '11 01:05
Originally posted by Agerg
I never claimed certainty there isn't some sort of god (and observe the baby 'g' there - it's important).
Im sure there is intelligent life out there in some remote galaxy quite likely more advanced than us. But I cannot prove that. Neither do I know for sure why I say that or what are the variables involved in proving that Im right.

There are people who would say thats impossible. But they dont have proof either.

Can I use your logic to prove that they are wrong?
15. 17 Nov '11 01:15
Originally posted by Rajk999
Im sure there is intelligent life out there in some remote galaxy quite likely more advanced than us. But I cannot prove that. Neither do I know for sure why I say that or what are the variables involved in proving that Im right.

There are people who would say thats impossible. But they dont have proof either.

Can I use your logic to prove that they are wrong?
No. the applicable situation with alien life would be if you were claim that a specific kind of
alien life who lived in the manner you described on a planet exactly as you described which
orbited around a specific star in a specific galaxy existed.

Then you could argue that in the absence of any evidence at all that this is so the chances
of you being right by accident are effectively nil.

However unlike claiming a specific alien race exists, there are plenty reasons to suppose some
other unspecified life does exist somewhere.
Life forming molecules appear to exist almost everywhere we look in the universe.
And we have good reasons and evidence to suggest that life can form spontaneously in the
right conditions.
Given then it looks likely that life will form almost anywhere possible, and that we can detect
planets around other stars. Then the law of large numbers says that intelligent life somewhere
else in the universe is near certainty.