I just did a schematic mind-map of the latest evidence about the existence of God.

Brought to you by some random Jehovah's witnesses who stopped me in the street. Pretty strong argument.

Being is so relaxing.

@freemo I talked with them for around 30 minutes. They couldn't get out of the circularity of the argument, I just gave up =D

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@arteteco I dont consider myself atheist personally (or any other religion for that matter, or even agnostic). But I do insist that if a person believes something they can provide a well thought out interpretation of whatever that may be.

@freemo Well, 'well thought' is not enough for me, as logic can only get you that far. I also need evidence.

In any case, I always consider that I may be wrong, so when I am approached by religious people I give them a chance and I ask them why do they believe in it. Good display of classical fallacies, so far.

@arteteco There is a difference between what I can accept in others and what I accept for my own beleifs.

What is true does not frequently line up with what we have evidence for, something can be true and still be its nature be unfalsifiable such that no evidence could ever be generated to show that it is true.

There is also a distinction between personal evidence and reproducible evidence. A person can witness evidence of something that is entirely valid for they themselves to believe, even if they can't reproduce it for others (and thus it is perfectly acceptable for other people to be skeptical of it).

I try to consider all of this when I engage on the topic of religion.

@freemo Can you make me an example of something that is true but unfalsifiable at the same time? Of course, not personal/subjective truth like "I like ice cream".

I am quite aware of the troubles science has with the falsification of many hypothesis, but I don't want to get too sidetracked here.

Personal evidence is a good starting point, but doesn't get you far. As you say, it is just healthy for others not to believe you, and the person who experienced it should be wary of it too. We are easily tricked by the simplest optical illusions or cognitive biases.

I try to approach religious with an open mind, but frankly I never heard a valid argument which was beyond the "I believe it without evidence because I want to", which is fair enough, but still quite a dangerous ground as you may be basing your ethics on it.

@arteteco I can not give you an example of something that is both true and unfalsifiable, not if your criteria for true is something you can test against (provide evidence for). But just because it is impossible to prove something to be true, does not mean it isnt.

Take the general idea of a god, not related to any one religion. But the nature of god (As someone or something that is all powerful) it is unfalsifiable since any god figure that had that level of power could easily change all the evidence in the universe to whatever he wants.

So if logically reasoning about if a god were to exist the conclusion must be that unless god wants there to be evidence, there will be none.

Now I'm not saying that is a good enough reason to believe in god, but it does provide you an example and explanation as to why something could be true and unfalsifiable.

@freemo @arteteco an unfalsifiable truth is indistinguishable from a falsity.

@solanaceae @arteteco Well thats where the point about personal evidence vs reproducible evidence comes from. A person can witness evidence that may not be reproducible but for his own decisions should consider that evidence in his future decisions.

So what may be unfalsifiable to one person may be falsifiable to another.

@solanaceae @arteteco If I were a scientist and I studied endangered and extinct animals. Naturally if I were a reasonable person I'd beleive the dodo to be extinct.

If one day one landed on my boat out at sea all alone, and I inspected that bird, and with my expert knowledge I knew it to be the dodo. Then I turn my back and the bird flys off before I could put it in the cage. Well I just experienced personal evidence that the dodo existed still.

Even if i could never find another dodo bird in the wild and could in no way prove to the greater community that the dodo still exists, I would still be perfectly reasonable to use my personal evidence to conclude that it does.

It would further more be reasonable for me to spend my life trying to find evidence of the dodo bird, even if i never find any evidence again.

I see no problem with people who respond similarly to their personal evidence around god. Whether they are correct or not in their assertions; likewise it deserves skepticism from people who have not witnessed the evidence or are personally unable to reproduce it.

@freemo

God is way more unlikely to exist than a dodo, and most of the 'proofs' brought forward in history about god have one after the other been correctly refused.

I have some problems with irrational thinking in general as people base their ethics on it, bringing to illegal abortions, killing homosexual people, wars, believing that "nature was created for us", and more.

That wouldn't happen with the dodo =D

In any case, if they have evidence I'll look at it =)

@solanaceae

@arteteco @solanaceae I would argue that since god is unfalsifiable you can not make any assertion as to the odds of him existing or not. To do so you'd need evidence on which to base your probabilities, and that is not possible if something is unfalsifiable.

@freemo
Well, god is quite falsifiable actually, otherwise its being true would have any effect on the world and it would be ruled out by Ockham razor. Believers have to state things like "he created the Earth in 6 days". Once proven false, is falsified. And it was.

The odds with the dodo are different in terms of how likely it is that an animal is not extinct (happened in the past, you can figure out an easy way for it to happen, would fit in what we know is true and so on) vs the whole universe is created by a single entity and so on, which has a huge attack area, has never been proven true, and would require a reshaping of everything we know. This makes it less likely.

@solanaceae

@arteteco @solanaceae You are confusing the idea of proving if "a god, any god" exists vs disproving if a particular god that did particular things exists. The first is unfalsifiable, the second is, often, falsifiable.

Just because a god has effected the world doesnt mean that it is testable and that the effect can be measured. Particularly considering that any all-powerful god has complete control over the result any instruments used to test might produce, and even what you might see or expiernce.

@freemo

Again, in this case would be indistinguishable from a non-existing and would be ruled out as an unnecessary step in explaining things. In both cases it wouldn't work.

@solanaceae

@arteteco @solanaceae well i never said actually using god as an explanation was a useful thing. Thats another discussion entierly.

But as i said before it may be distinguishable to some people and not for others. Because such an all powerful god can also choose who is privy to the evidence and who is not.

@freemo

Ah, I see what you mean. In this case is empirical knowledge, and again it can be alright for an individual to hold that up, but with a full, humble conscience that it doesn't give him any right and that people are, and should, completely skeptical about it.

@solanaceae

@arteteco @solanaceae I dont disagree with that. They should not suggest authority over others. And yea, skepticism should be taken gracefully of course.

@freemo @arteteco @solanaceae You’ve reached an amicable conclusion. I’m late to the party (sorry). Your debate on the possible truth states of unfalsifiable propositions is interesting. I have recently realized (been convinced) that the “Popperian” views on fasifiability I thought I held are sort of out-of-date. The alternative view, which I now accept, is that in physics (& economics AFAIK) most hypoths. are never in fact falsified but rather “implausified” and everyone (or most) moves on to the next thing. I find this an attractive idea both from experience and for its Humean character (ie. his argument that our belief in causation is nothing more than a series of “more and more plausible” — eventually convincing — associations). The most intriguing discussion I have seen of this general subject is in connection with contemporary efforts to escape the “dead end” in the Standard Model of physics/cosmology: Sabine Hossenfelder’s “Lost In Math” — a book that I highly recommend, if you have not read it. Here’s a good, sympathetic, review/précis of the argument::math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpr

@pwgallagher

Hi, thanks for swinging by!

I agree that popperian falsifiability is quite imprecise and surpassed. Popper in general has quite some flaws, from the rejection of inductive reasoning to the very strict rules about falsifiability.

One point is completely spot on though: The theory must be falsifiable. That doesn't mean that a falsification should make it invalid point blank, of course, but if no testing is possible it should not be considered science at all (which is oftentimes the case with religious claims).

I have read about Hossenfelder on reddit (check out /r/philosophyofscience, it's a nice sub), but I was a bit skeptical because of the aesthetical approach, which I find limiting and biased in science. Can you confirm that's her way of trying to solve the most tricky matters?

.

@freemo @solanaceae

@arteteco @freemo @solanaceae

Hossenfleder is a critic of the idea that the “beauty” of a theorem is a useful guide to it’s likely success. She makes the point several times in her book but, in reality I would say she’s not so much interested in the ‘aesthetics’ of theory as the uncritical worship of mathematical “beauty”. It’s the screwiness of thinking that beautiful math is somehow cognate with “truth” that pisses her off. I must say, as someone who feels the same way about “mathematical” economists, I am sympathetic with that view. She argues that it gives energy to essentially un-falsifiable theories such as the excesses of string/multiverse theory that are in her view intellectual onanism (“wanking:” in Australian english).

@pwgallagher
Well, makes a lot of sense, I'll try to scrape the time to read her.

Thanks!

@freemo @solanaceae

@arteteco @solanaceae I dont see it as inherently irrational thinking. Obviously a lot of times the logic around a god is very irrational, other times it is very rational. It seems to depend on a case by case basis.

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