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Comments

Catsandbeer.com

Hey Dilbert - stick to jokes about the printer not working - thanks.

Warren

If you poke an athiest on this point, as you find out, you'll see they're agnostics, actually. They don't know for certain there isn't a god. They are reasonably certain that it's improbable. The same way that they are reasonably certain that something sprang out of nothing, for no forseeable reason. Such gaps in their own logic and rationality are to be ignored. They aren't there. Try not to see them, will you please kindly?

Warren

Matt Hardy

Who are the Athiests of which you speak who have 100% certainty. Certainly not me. I call myself an atheist because I don't actively believe in God and that's what the word means. 100% certainty is a trait of faith and is not something that I proclaim to have. In my understanding of Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers it is a position I share with many well known athiests. My knowledge of the existance of God is provisional. Since there is no evidence I don't believe. Should someone demonstrate that prayer is effective or demonstrate that contact with the dead is possible that I'm prepared to follow the evidence.

Your formulation of Pascals Wager the risk that a vengeful God will ignore my humanitatrian efforts, charity work and general nice demeanor and judge me solely on my ability to believe in a particular ancient mythology above all others is rather saddening. The accuracy with which you present such a probabilty is bemusing and to ignore the surely equal posibility that Allah, Thor, Hades or Anubis will offer equally arbitary conditions on our eternal reward is a rather elementary error.

Should I spend my life hopping on one leg to appease the possibility that there is a hop monster that holds the key to eternal pardise? I can't be 100% certain that there isn't.

David

Scott,

Aptly filed under 'General Nonsense'.

Recommended reading for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance.

There *must* be part of your brain saying "there's no evidence for this god stuff - it's gotta be shite!", but the indoctrination you received as a child is making your adult brain twist and turn to deny the obvious conclusion. Keep working it through!

Cheers.

hapbt

Heh, that's the most retarded thing I've heard in a long time Scott, were you also swayed by the elementary school science projects?

If lack of absolute knowledge means we can't prove god dosen't exist, it also means we can't prove he DOES exist. If we apply LOGIC, we find that there is no logical basis for a hell of eternal punishment, it would serve no purpose, and would basically invalidate all known laws of science. So, although our knowledge of science is probably 0.001%, our actual documented, proofed, knowledge of god is even less than that. Therefore the probability of there being a god is less than that of there not being a god.

Furthermore, it is quite clearly stated in the bible that if you do not sincerely believe in god and jesus christ, if you do not accept that he was the son of god, live by his teachings your entire life, goto church, etc, you will goto hell. So, Scott, if you really think that God is going to let you into heaven just because you gave him lip service your whole life, you're wrong there too.

And in any case, what kind of a person does that make you? One who lives in fear of even the tiniest chance of any threat made over 1000+ years ago? Go grow a pair of balls, and think about what an illogical, cowardly, unscientific perspective you have chosen for your life because of your overwhelming fear of death and the afterlife.

Samus_

ha! well hello, nice to have fun over some fearful minds over there huh? I do agree with the agnosticism in fact I see atheism as a way of faith because you can't prove one thing or the other, in order to be certain you must believe, either belive the existance or the in-existance. whatever c'ya! (and beware of the mobs ;))

Rigel Kent

The word athiest is a neologism based on Latin. It literally means no-god person. If you self-identify as an athiest you are saying categorically that there is no god. If you aren't certain of this then no matter what you call yourself you're not actually an athiest. It's funny watching people get into a big tiff just because they don't understand what a word means.

John B. Hodges

1 And the LORD said to Moses, 2 "Say to the people of Israel, If any one sins unwittingly in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and does any one of them, 3 if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer for the sin which he has committed a young bull without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering. 4 He shall bring the bull to the door of the tent of meeting before the LORD, and lay his hand on the head of the bull, and kill the bull before the LORD. 5 And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it to the tent of meeting; 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the LORD in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7 And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD which is in the tent of meeting, and the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering which is at the door of the tent of meeting. 8 And all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall take from it, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 9 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver which he shall take away with the kidneys 10 (just as these are taken from the ox of the sacrifice of the peace offerings), and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. 11 But the skin of the bull and all its flesh, with its head, its legs, its entrails, and its dung, 12 the whole bull he shall carry forth outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and shall burn it on a fire of wood; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.

Leviticus Chapter 4. Proof positive that there is no God; if there were any, he would not tolerate such bull.... being published in His name.

John B. Hodges

1 And the LORD said to Moses, 2 "Say to the people of Israel, If any one sins unwittingly in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and does any one of them, 3 if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer for the sin which he has committed a young bull without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering. 4 He shall bring the bull to the door of the tent of meeting before the LORD, and lay his hand on the head of the bull, and kill the bull before the LORD. 5 And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it to the tent of meeting; 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the LORD in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7 And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD which is in the tent of meeting, and the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering which is at the door of the tent of meeting. 8 And all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall take from it, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 9 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the appendage of the liver which he shall take away with the kidneys 10 (just as these are taken from the ox of the sacrifice of the peace offerings), and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. 11 But the skin of the bull and all its flesh, with its head, its legs, its entrails, and its dung, 12 the whole bull he shall carry forth outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and shall burn it on a fire of wood; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.

Leviticus Chapter 4. Proof positive that there is no God; if there were any, he would not tolerate such bull.... being published in His name.

GodlessHeathen

100% certainty is always a problem. It halts continued learning and the required constant reevaluation of conclusions.

Which is why I get a giggle out of the idea an agnostic who's 100% certain that there's no way to know.

mike

I use the same brain constructs to surmise that dilbert doesn't exist as I do "god", leprechauns, the fsm and the boogie man. I'm 100% certain dilbert doesn't "exist." The question is, can you prove that dilbert exists?

Seemant Kulleen

I must say, this is a rather disappointing post from you, Scott. In addition to the complete misconception you seem to have about atheism, you also seem to believe that belief in God is purely the property of religions that believe in this thing you call Hell (Christianity and Islam, mainly, I believe). There are religions which don't believe in Hell at all. So, if a Hindu believes in God, it's not the fear of Hell that compels him/her to.

I really do think that Christians might better re-evaluate their ideas about loving Gods and free choice.

Lois

I could just as easily say that in order to believe in God, you have to possess a god-like ability to know EVERYTHING in order to know God exists. Since you don't possess this ability, then your belief is probably unfounded.

"An eternity in Hell is the largest penalty there could ever be." Occam's Razor works both ways--what if Christians are worshiping the WRONG god? All their faith could be a waste of time if Amen-Ra proves to be the real, one-and-only, omni-everything deity, and Yahweh is just a figment of their imagination. Is it worth risking an eternity in hell for not worshiping Amen-Ra? Oh, wait, maybe Odin is the god you should be worshiping, not Amen-Ra or Yahweh! Or what about Zeus or Venus or Quetzalcoatl? How do you know which god is the real deal and which of the thousands of others are not?

Hey, you know what? How about everyone just quit worshiping all these make-believe genies and fables and scary hoodoo-men in the sky, and just try and live a good life by being excellent to each other? Since nobody can agree on which god is real and which ones aren't, maybe NOBODY has it right and this god--if it exists--simply doesn't give a hill of dung about whether or not we worship it. Doesn't that make the most sense?

Brent

Scott Adams:
Great at cubicle related comics.
Awful at probabilities and science.

Why does anyone read this?

Merikari

No one can be 100% sure about anything no matter what they say they believe or have observed with their limited senses. We can, however, be fairly certain that there is no Santa Claus.

Alri

Atheism is the only logically defensible position because there is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of god. It all comes from whether you believe being certain is also being obstinate. I am certain god does not exist based on the (lack) of evidence but if a proof for god or evidence was presented I would not be obstinate enough to ignore the evidence and continue being an atheist.

An agnostic gives the existence of god a plausible chance, and atheist an implausible chance, knowing that everything has a chance.

See its all clear when the terms are not used in the absolute.

Now please could you do more Six Sigma jokes? :)

Cheers!

Knight_of_BAAWA

Of course we can be 100% certain *of certain things*. They are a priori truths/apodictic. That 1 + 1 = 2 is 100% certain. That a square circle cannot exist is 100% certain.

And it from that latter we can see that it is 100% certain that there cannot be a god: it is definitionally impossible to exist. Just as a square circle cannot because of inherent contradictions, so too with god.

Also: agnosticism is orthogonal to atheism and theism. Just as a woman cannot be sorta pregnant, a person cannot be "agnostic" in this sense. You either have the belief that there is a god, or do you not have it. There's no "maybe I have this belief".

Q the Enchanter

There is an infinity of possible gods and respective hells, so the probability that you have bet on the wrong one is no higher or lower than the probability there is no hell at all. A priori, then, your risk of going to the "right" hell is the same as mine.

Rob

Mr. Adams,

We are all atheists, you, me, and even the Pope. There have been hundreds, if not thousands of distinct religions throughout history. The difference between the Pope and me is that I have rejected exactly one more religion than he does: I reject all, and the pope rejects every one but Roman Catholicism.

If there are n religions, with n being a large positive integer, an atheist rejects all n religions, a Christian or Jew or Muslim rejects n-1 religions. For some reason, we never seem to realize that a Christian believes there is no evidence that Zeus is Lord, and thus he rejects this premise.

Inoculated Mind

This brings me to atheists. In order to be certain that God doesn’t exist, you have to possess a godlike mental capacity – the ability to be 100% certain. A human can’t be 100% certain about anything. Our brains aren’t that reliable. Therefore, to be a true atheist, you have to believe you are the very thing that you argue doesn’t exist: God.

Scott, a little introspection will really spin your argument on its head: How certain are you that an atheist needs to be 100% certain, and therefore possess god-like powers? Don't you therefore have to possess godlike powers yourself in order to be certain that atheists must possess them? Please don't waste our time. By the way, if you run the numbers with Pascal's Wager, you fall into it anyhow - believing in it for fear of hell is not believing in it.

A weak atheist is someone who lacks a belief in a god, but does not claim that there can be no god, which is the strong atheist position. An agnostic is someone who believes that either:
1. Strong Agnostic - Knowledge about the presence, absence, or possibly nature of the supernatural is impossible, or
2. Weak Agnostic - The individual does not currently possess knowledge about the supernatural, but that it may be possible to possess it.

As you can imagine, you can be a weak agnostic at the same time as being a weak atheist. You simply do not have any knowledge of the supernatural, and therefore have no belief in god. You can also be a weak atheist and a strong agnostic, so you would have no belief in gods, and also hold that it would be impossible to know anything about the supernatural.

The key thing to remember is that atheism is an ontological claim, that is, what there is, and agnosticism is an epistemological claim, as in, what can be known.

A basic course in philosophy would cover all these things. Please consider taking one, because your logic is unsound.

(Weak Agnostic about the know-ability of the supernatural, weak atheist about deities in general, and strong atheist about a few deities that make absolutely no logical sense, including the one that you say rewards people who gamble with truth and eternity.)

denise

Mr Adams,

I disagree. A human can be 100% certain of many things. For instance, I am 100% certain that my computer is on as I type this. I am also 100% certain that I am a woman, it is raining here today and at some point in my life, I will die. These are just a few little things that, as a human, I can say I am 100% certain of.

I consider Pascal's wager ridiculous and cowardly. The idea of the Christian Hell is absurd and cruel. I have an easier time believing in Valhalla.

I am not an Atheist, Mr Adams. I am also not a monotheist. The way I see it, you can not acknowledge the existence of one invisible sky man without acknowledging the possibility of all the others. This is "Neicie's wager": Since you can not prove or disprove the existence of any God or Goddess. You might as well pick none, one or a few you like, treat the planet kindly and try not to be an asshole to your fellow man.

I think this is far better wager than Pascal's.

Denise

factician

I maintain that there is a giant laser out in space that current technology is not able to detect (it has a cloaking device on it). It was revealed to me in a dream. It is pointed at earth and the spacemonkey Zarkol is getting ready to fire it. It is powerful enough to sterilize the planet. But it has a weakness. All you have to do is wear a tinfoil hat to stay safe. I'm wearing one. Are you?

Joe Fulgham

Bringing math into the argument is only part of it. The problem is that it's just as likely that the EXACT OPPOSITE of what is believed is true: That there is a God but he's testing you all to see if you're foolish sheep who believe in things without proof and all of those people will be damned for eternity while the skeptics will be raised upon high for eternal bliss.

And there are an infinite amount of other possibilities -- Zeus, Odin, Grabthar, and countless things we haven't even dreamed of.

When confronted with these infinite possibilities, the only logical decision is to keep an open mind but only accept that which is the most likely based on the evidence. There is no evidence for "God" in any form, so that idea can be relegated to the same pile as faeries in the garden, vampires and dinosaur-driven flying monster trucks from the far future.

oldcola

Hi, this is the RED Flying Spaghetti Monster's (carrots in the pasta, that's it) prophet.

Could you please keep your probabilities calculations for Las Vegas' WE and leave us alone? Proselytism is serious business, for SF writers and such.

What are you expecting now, some philosopher/mathematician (hey, that sounds like Dembski) starting somme cartoon series ? (hey did something like that, didn't he? Some Flash with farting and so...)

OK, keep going on that stuff, you have competition from the DI to struggle with.
And don't forget references, Pascal did it first ;-)

plunge

Sigh. Scott: give us a break here. Very few atheists claim 100% certainty that there is no god, so your argument is poorly aimed and confused. Atheists are atheists by and large because they don't think there is any reason to believe. Attacking all atheists in the way you do is just a silly straw man, not to mention that it involves you either attacking nearly nobody at all, or changing the definition of atheism midstream (first it includes everyone who does not believe in god, but then it changes to mean only "believe for certain that there is no god").

I do not believe in god in exactly the same way I do not believe in leprechauns. If you show me convincing evidence of either, I'd be happy to re-evaluate things. But I need a reason to believe, otherwise, I can't take that step. Talking about the probability of god existing is, I think, mostly meaningless. Probability is best limited to dice, and gets really goofy when used in metaphysics.

"And it’s too hard to explain that agnosticism is the only intellectually defensible position."

That's because you don't understand what agnosticism is. I'm an agnostic and an atheist. Knowledge and not knowing is not the same thing as belief and not believing. Lots of people believe in god without knowing whether or not one exists. You can say you are an agnostic all you want. That still doesn't answer the question of whether or not you believe in a god or not. It's just an evasion of the question, not an answer to it. Either you believe or you don't: the only other option is that you don't know your own thoughts, which is sort of crazypants.

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