Monday, April 6, 2015

572: About the non existence of gods

The more I study the subject of atheism, the more I get puzzled. Why spending all this energy on profiling yourself as an atheist.
Ok, there are cultural reasons. Religion is often a source of inequality. Inequality in social chances, inequality regarding the sexes.
To give you an example, my newspaper reported that the UN Commission on the Status of Women published a document of the rights of women, which was accepted by the UN Assembly.
And hurray, hurray! The documents refers twice to women rights as human rights, 
but what is not mentioned at all are sexual rights, female circumcision, honor killings or the rights of lesbians and transgenders.
Reason? There was a strong conservative opposition led by the Vatican (!) and some muslim countries. And since a few years Russia has joined this group too.
So it is understandable that  people try to fight the deeply entrenched religious ideas in our culture, but I am not interested in sociology or social psychology or politics.
I try to deal with the issue of atheism and related to that the issue of religion from a philosophical point of view. And then I already run into so many questions.
When I was a child I loved the stories about gnomes, elves, wizards and witches. At a certain age I was convinced, that there lived elves in our backyard.
The stories were read from a thick book, fairytales by Grimm. When I was in high school, gymnasium, I learnt of all the gods, who lived on the Olympus.
History class told me about the gods of the tribes in Northern Europe; Wodan, Donar, Thor, Freia… Whole families of gods.
And then there was that other book, called the bible, which told stories about a god who murdered 30.000 Philistines with one blow,
split a whole sea apart and then closed it again so that a whole Egyptian army was drowned. Stories about a man who did miracles, gave the blind eyesight again, even woke people from death.
How can it be that some of these examples are called fairytales or mythology and some are called religion, by which they all of a sudden get a completely different epistemological status?
Of course I know history and how this came into being, the social role of religion and so on, but that doesn’t prove anything from an epistemological point of view.
If we could prove the the nonexistence of a gnome, Zeus or god, we were done. All the written sources I mentioned are then just storybooks.
A common objection to atheism, is that it is impossible to prove the nonexistence of God. The quintessence of this claim is the meaning of “existence”. 
But before dealing with that let’s give it a try. We have two options: one option is to prove that something cannot exist because it leads to contradictions.
Take for instance the famous square circles or married bachelors. Ever met a virgin prostitute? We can demonstrate a logical contradiction in the very concept of the thing in question.
This also applies to states of affairs involving several objects. In other words, it may be logically impossible for two objects to exist simultaneously. 
For example, some gods cannot coexist with other gods. The god of Islam, Allah and the god of Christianity, Jehovah, despite their common origin in the god of Judaism,Yahweh, are mutually exclusive. 
Jehovah and Allah, at least as traditionally understood, cannot both exist at the same time. Both claim to be the Creator of the universe, but they have contradictory attributes.
Christianity claims that there are three "persons" known as God but Islam claims that there is only one. Therefore, Allah and Jehovah cannot both be "God"; at least one cannot exist.
Thus, the Christian theist who makes the positive existential claim that the Christian god exists, is implicitly making the negative existential claim that all gods contradictory to the Christian god do not exist. 
The other way to prove the nonexistence of something is, simply by searching for empirical evidence of the existence of something. I already referred to the discovery of higgs particle in this regard.
And here is the sting. As I said in the previous lecture: A naturalistic worldview holds the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system in the sense that nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.
But yet people are for some reason willing to believe in weird things….. thank you…the floor is yours.

The Discussion

herman Bergson: yes take your time to think this over _^
Max Chatnoir: Is it also a theological claim in the different religions that God and Yaweh and Allah are not the same?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it is all very logical of course
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in some religions yes
Max Chatnoir: Because within Christianity, there were disagreements with the idea of the trinity.
herman Bergson: I have no idea Max...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but some have been able to word it to recognize a relationship
Max Chatnoir: Some heresy, whose name I cannot remember.  Arian?  Athanasian?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): back to abraham
herman Bergson: Bu tthey can't be identical because of their contradictory attributes
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): some have been able to do it
Max Chatnoir: Yes, that would make sense.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): there is a good book about it
herman Bergson: Well to be honest....
Max Chatnoir: So these religions actually have different gods?  Stranger and stranger.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): so the jewish , christian muslim are the same god
herman Bergson: the whole debate about trinity in godsd is complete meaningless babble to me
Max Chatnoir: I agree.  It's hard to understand why it's an issue.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): thomas aquinas has a good explanation of the trinity
herman Bergson: they dont have the same god Gemma...they have the same historical roots and traditions
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in his belief'
Max Chatnoir: Unless you want Jesus to be God.
herman Bergson: and where did Aquinas get his knowledge from Gemma?
herman Bergson: Nobody ever has seen god...let alone the three in one of them
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): this is the name of the book
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
herman Bergson: circumstancial it is called..I guess :-)
Max Chatnoir: But you asked at one point about why make a point of atheism?  That is, why make a religion of it?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): bruce fieler is the author
herman Bergson: yes MAx....
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): aquinas has his own logic
herman Bergson: Indeed Gemma ...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): which to him leads to the explanation of the trinity
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): just like all the philosophers
herman Bergson: yes, but his primary assumptions are based on nothing...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): his own answers to questions
CB Axel: My favorite quote about religion is: Religion is like a penis. It's fine to have one. It's fine to be proud of it. But don't take it out and wave it around in public, and don't shove it down my throat.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): omg
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): OMG!!!
Max Chatnoir: LOL  Where did that come from, CB?
herman Bergson: lol
CB Axel: I'm not sure. I saw it online.
bergfrau Apfelbaum: lol+
herman Bergson: real physical instead of philosophical CB :-)
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol
CB Axel: True. Sorry.
Max Chatnoir: Well, if whatever god you are talking about has attributes, can you make an argument based on the attributes?
CB Axel: But we wouldn't be discussing this if people didn't keep trying to shove their religions down everyone elses throats.
herman Bergson: lol..what a saying...:-)
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): as well as atheists who do the same
CB Axel: True.
CB Axel: But back to proving God doesn't exist. °͜°
herman Bergson: Well that is a nice issue....the idea that atheism is just another religion.....
herman Bergson: OK CB....:-)
CB Axel: I'm not sure we ever agreed on what existence is.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i recall that issue
herman Bergson: stage one is the logical one....
herman Bergson: but that is just a battle between language...
herman Bergson: the second was the empirical one....
herman Bergson: and THAT is the hard part....
Max Chatnoir: Anything that is part of reality and that interconnects with other parts of it exists?
herman Bergson: because here you have to agree on epistemological principles...
Max Chatnoir: Actually, there is this great line in the last Harry Potter book, where Harry asks if his conversation with Dumbledore (who is dead) is real or if it is only in his head.  Dumbledore says that of course it is only in his head, but does that mean it isn't real?
herman Bergson: Te basic question here is...HOW do we acquire knowledge....what means do we have
herman Bergson: Good point Max!
herman Bergson: But there is one huge problem with that kind of reality...
Max Chatnoir: Yes, it's private.
Max Chatnoir: Are realities that are only private part of the rest of the world?
herman Bergson: nobody can ever experience this reality in your head except you yourself
Max Chatnoir: exactly.
Max Chatnoir: So if somebody says he talks to God every morning at breakfast, well...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): belief
herman Bergson: Such private realities are part of the world in the sense that your brain is part of the world
Max Chatnoir: Unless he invites me to breakfast and I get to talk to God, too....
CB Axel: A lot of people talk to God. The question is does God talk back?
Max Chatnoir: So there are public and private realities.
herman Bergson: let me put it this way....
herman Bergson: We call that reality, what can interact with the reast of reality....
Max Chatnoir: I'll go with that!
herman Bergson: so suppose you meet this god in your thoughts...ask him to get you a cup of coffee...., for instance
herman Bergson: that would make the thought reality independent of your brain
Max Chatnoir: But if I think that God is telling me to kill you and I do, then is my reality interacting with the rest of reality?
Max Chatnoir: Actually, I like the coffee thing better.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hope not
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): psychiatry enters in
herman Bergson: No Max...YOU are interacting with reality...with certain drives and motivations
Max Chatnoir: So you should only make public policy based on public reality.
herman Bergson: Would make sense, yes
Max Chatnoir: But what if there are 150 people who all agree that they talk to God at breakfast?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): if only politicians believed that
herman Bergson: I don’t mind...
Max Chatnoir: Could we establish the reality of that by asking them separately about the conversation?
herman Bergson: just ask them how he looked like what he said and you get 150 different answers...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): what if there are millions max
Max Chatnoir: That's what PsychData is for.  Millions of questionaires.  :-)
herman Bergson: there are Gemma....
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yep
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): over generations
herman Bergson: the muslim world is a good example....
Max Chatnoir: But how do you keep them from cheating?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): gazillions
herman Bergson: they all yell Allah akbar....
herman Bergson: exactly any knowledge claim should be foolproof
herman Bergson: so
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): if they don't yell allah akbar they get killed
herman Bergson: when I claim I talked to god you have the right to have a possibility to check it out
CB Axel: Yes, what they say and what they actually believe can be 2 different things.
Max Chatnoir: Well, you know all those people who have near death experiences, and tell sort of similar stories?  Lights and relatives and all.
herman Bergson: Is completely explained by neuroscience, Max...
Max Chatnoir: I would think so.  Plus cultural expectations.
herman Bergson: The vision of the light is due to oxygen deprivation of the brain...
herman Bergson: for instance]
herman Bergson: the God helm has produced visions of ancestors etc...
herman Bergson: our brain can play tricks...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): sure can
herman Bergson: take halluciantions...voices in your head.....
Max Chatnoir: It would be more interesting if one of those visions produced something really novel.
herman Bergson: god never showed up....:-)
Max Chatnoir: Yes, that's interesting, isn't it!
herman Bergson: and every time I say a thing like this I wonder...which god....?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): good thing we dont start on teh hindus
herman Bergson: how do we know who is the real god? :-))
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): aks a muslim:)
CB Axel: Ask him for his cv?
herman Bergson: what mental faculty do we have to know which is god and which is the real god?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): only faith
Max Chatnoir: Well, I would say that the "real" god would have to have more interobserver reliability.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): which is a mental faculty i guess
herman Bergson: WellCB....the CV of God is a long list of massacres as I referred to in my lecture to begin with :-))
herman Bergson: What should that mean Gemma " interobserver reliability"
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): who said that
Max Chatnoir: Lots of people from different backgrounds should agree on what the God experience is.
Max Chatnoir: It can't be an accident that muslim children have muslim parents and christian children have christian parents.
Max Chatnoir: That cultural.
herman Bergson: but they also agree on the experience what drunkeness is, Max...
Max Chatnoir: So it has to go beyond culture.
herman Bergson: in what way does it establish a real existence of a god?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it doesn’t
herman Bergson: real means for me.....the ability to interact with the physical world
Max Chatnoir: Well, I mean in the same way that you have agreement that there is only one sun in the sky.
CB Axel: But we can see the sun.
Max Chatnoir: But anything that is culturally restricted pretty much has to be  a cultural artifact.
herman Bergson: That is an empirical fact....
Max Chatnoir: So it's tradition, not reality.
herman Bergson: your claim that there are three suns around th eearth is easily falsified
Max Chatnoir: Yes, nobody claims that THEIR sun is the only one.
herman Bergson: the problem with the phenomenon religion IS, that it IS deeply rooted in culture...
herman Bergson: AND used by politics...
Max Chatnoir: Yes, that's where it gets dangerous.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): very
Max Chatnoir: I think cultural traditions are fine, unless you try to make them universal, and especially by force.
herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll give you an example of it, which is happening this very day in this world....
Max Chatnoir: Oh, tell us now, so we can savor the anticipation!
herman Bergson: Then let me surprise you on Thursday......
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i think we already know
herman Bergson: The Middle Ages are closer then you think...:-)
Max Chatnoir: But it's religion that becomes a political tool that is dangerous.  Because politicians have access to armies.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes
CB Axel: Not just politicians. ISIS has armies.
Max Chatnoir: Oh, all right... heavy sigh.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): well the so called leader is a politition
herman Bergson: IS is an interesting case..
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): establishing a new world
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): caliphate
Max Chatnoir: Day light savings!
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): politician that is
Max Chatnoir: OK, guess not.
herman Bergson: The only way to beat IS is to conquer all land it occupies...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but who is going to conquer that
herman Bergson: No land caliphate...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in several different countries
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): now
herman Bergson: caliphate
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yep
Max Chatnoir: What an awful idea.  It's hard to beat ideas by conquest.  They just go underground and become romantic.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): The countries themselves must stop them
herman Bergson: it is the only solution to this problem of this sect....
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and some of the countries are a mess!!!!!!
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Syria
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yemen
herman Bergson: and the biggest criminals against humanity are those who now finance IS
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes
Max Chatnoir: Somebody says that you need radicals to make liberals look moderate.
Max Chatnoir: so what FUNCTION does ISIS serve?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): these radicals are way right
herman Bergson: you need republicans to make democrats look moderate ^_^
Max Chatnoir: Why are they not just treated everywhere like thugs and criminals?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): that was my question
Max Chatnoir: ISIS, not the democrats.  :-)
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): WHO is doing that
CB Axel: I think at this point that they're too well armed to treat them as mere criminals.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): In Syria is a real mess
CB Axel: And there are too many of them.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Jordan is trying
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Iraq is fragmented
Max Chatnoir: AHA, and who is providing them with arms?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): good question
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Iran a lot
CB Axel: So maybe we don't have to conquer their land. Just their financers.
Max Chatnoir: Maybe they should be treated like thugs and criminals too?
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ??
herman Bergson: My question for years, Max....WHO IS SUPPLYING WHO....
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): no
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): saudi?
herman Bergson: Qatar...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): some billionaires there for sure
herman Bergson: indeed Gemma...
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why Qatar?
herman Bergson: Muslim and money, Beertje
herman Bergson: and aknwo participant in the region
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): have to excuse myself
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's all about money and power...not about religion
CB Axel: IS is helping me to not believe in the existence of God. They make me believe only in the inhumanity of the human race.
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right in some cases yes
herman Bergson: Bye Gemma
CB Axel: Bye, Gemma.
herman Bergson looks at his watch
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hope to be here thursday
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes
herman Bergson: oops...was a long discussion indeed!
Max Chatnoir: Yes, I guess we are running out of time.  :-)
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont):
Max Chatnoir: Thanks again, Herman.
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's early here in europe:)
herman Bergson: so..thank you all again....:-)
CB Axel: Thank you, herman.
CB Axel: ♣◦•∞ αρρу t. αţriςк's αy ∞•◦
CB Axel: Happy St. Patrick's Day
herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
Max Chatnoir: I will hope to see you Thursday.  :-)
CB Axel: See you all Thursday.
CB Axel: God willing. LOL
herman Bergson: You're welcome Max :-)

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