Thursday, December 10, 2015

There is evidence on both sides of the God question

A lot depends on what exactly one means by evidence. My own view of evidence, in the context of the discussion of God, is something that is more likely to be there if God exists than if God does not exist. Evidence against God would be something that is more likely to exist if there is no God than if there is a God. With that understanding, I think the fine-tuning of the universe is a clear case of something that is more likely to exist if there is a God than if there is no God, so it's evidence for God. The degree and kind of pain and suffering that exists in the world does seem to be something that is more likely without God than with God, so that's evidence against God. 
Whether the positive evidence outweighs the negative evidence, to me, is the interesting issue. The no-evidence claim looks like a non-starter. 

81 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

I've never considered the problem of pain to be that much of a problem. I suppose it could be used to argue against the idea that the creator is the Christian god, but it does nothing to support atheism. Atheism is a dead end explanation until they can explain why something exists rather than nothing, and they can't do that. The fact that pain even exists is a strike against atheism, far as I'm concerned.

John Moore said...

If you find a bloody knife in Mr. Green's room, and if you also know that Mr. Green was out of the country at the time of the murder, then does the bloody knife still count as evidence that Mr. Green is the murderer?

It looks like some evidence can destroy other evidence. Maybe nothing definitely and objectively counts as evidence. Or maybe in the end there's only one decisive piece of evidence that trumps everything else.

Ilíon said...

"The degree and kind of pain and suffering that exists in the world does seem to be something that is more likely without God than with God, so that's evidence against God."

That line of (harrumph!) argument is incoherent.

If there is no God, then there is no "way things ought to be". But the entire so-called argument rests on the premise -- generally kept hidden -- that *this* (i.e. "degree and kind of pain and suffering that exists in the world") is contrary to "way things ought to be".

There *are* no good arguments for atheism; and *any* evidence that anyone imagines supports atheism is going to be some sort of category error.

Hugo Pelland said...

Victor said...
"Evidence against God would be something that is more likely to exist if there is no God than if there is a God. "
Right, except that the second a non-believer give such examples, many believers will say that this is not what their god would do, or that the non-believer cannot possibly explain what gods would do since they don't believe in them, or that there cannot even be evidence without a god, or that logic wouldn't work, etc, etc, etc...

Look at how 2 idiotic comments were posted already regarding how atheism cannot even possible be true. Legion of Logic and Ilíon are so shut to the 'possibility' that there is no god that they cannot even concede that there are indeed some reasons not to believe.

Kudos to you Victor to be more moderate and rational!

Legion of Logic said...

I am not aware of any good argument for atheism, which would be a rational explanation for how something exists rather than nothing if there is no intentionality. If that is being "close minded" then I suppose I'm guilty.

Hugo Pelland said...

Well, saying you are 'not aware of any good argument' is already slightly better than 'Atheism is a dead end explanation until they can explain why something exists rather than nothing' but in both cases you are just claiming ignorance. You don't know how 'x' can be so you believe in 'y' which happens to explain 'x', by definition. Well, I don't see any reason to believe in your 'y' so I would rather say that "I don't know" how 'x' came to be.

Plus, there is no explanation for how something exists rather than nothing because this question implies that there was nothing at some point. But nobody can prove that; it's possible there was always something and that the question is irrelevant. And what does 'intentionality' changes...?

Hugo Pelland said...

Actually... the bigger problem here Legion is that you said you are not aware of any good argument 'for' atheism, which is completely irrelevant since rejecting theism does not require endorsing any kind of strong atheism. But you know that; everyone knows that... no idea why people insist on the contrary.

Cal Metzger said...

Reppert: "We have good evidence that leprechauns and unicorns exist -- stories, paintings, little girls posters, etc. On balance, all reasonable people would have to agree that there is this evidence for leprechauns and unicorns, and I side with those who, on balance, determine that leprechauns and unicorns do indeed exist."
Legion: "I don't know of any good argument for unicorns and leprechauns not existing."

Sold.

John Mitchell said...

Dr. Reppert

I totally agree with your contention that there is eidence on both sides of the God question.

I am always amazed and honestly a little bit irritated by people who deny this.


But i am also disappointed to find that after getting rid of two well-known trolls, this blog now suffers from the fact that their space has been reclaimed by two people who can very well claim to be their equivalents


It has been almost ten years now since Dawkins published his wretched book and i dont see any good reason to seriously entertain the hope that people who in the context of debating theism mention the words 'leprechauns' and 'unicorns' will have anything even remotely interesting to say

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "But i am also disappointed to find that after getting rid of two well-known trolls, this blog now suffers from the fact that their space has been reclaimed by two people who can very well claim to be their equivalents.

I can only assume you include me in the "trolls" misnomer.

Like I've said here before, if you want to protect your silly beliefs from criticism, then by all means join a private bible study group. Don't (shudder) expose them to open dialogue on the internets.

But if you want to pretend that your silly beliefs can stand criticism, and aren't ridiculous in the ways that are so easy for me to expose (why? because if one seriously questions premises, is modest in one's assumptions, and mostly just tries to be consistent then being right just happens with little effort or strain), then commenting on a place like this seems like a bad strategy for you.

Imagine someone comes here questioning their beliefs, and looking for a debate between both sides. And instead of responding to my basic criticisms -- that there really is no good evidence for the basic tenets of Christianity, in the same way there really is no good evidence for leprechauns and unicorns; and that one should conclude whatever one likes against a null hypothesis because the null hypothesis is null (?!?) -- all they get to read is that you think it's not polite to point out the emperor wears no clothes.


John Mitchell said...

"Like I've said here before, if you want to protect your silly beliefs from criticism, then by all means join a private bible study group. Don't (shudder) expose them to open dialogue on the internets."


And my 'silly beliefs' are??

Im sorry my mind-reading skills are somewhat rusty, so i dont know what you are referring to, but yours seem to be on point so i guess you can tell me.

Chris said...

Is that you Skep?

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "And my 'silly beliefs' are??"

From your comments I gathered that you are a Christian (apologist). As a Christian, I assume that you believe that the stories told in the New Testament actually happened and that the tenets of Christianity are true -- a triune god, the virgin birth, and the resurrection aren't just stories, but they are real or they actually happened.

If you don't believe that, then you would be correct -- I would have attributed silly beliefs to you that you don't have. If that's the case, then I apologize.

Hugo Pelland said...

John, I said exactly the same thing as you; that there are evidence on both sides and it's annoying to have people deny that. But that's not what the other commentators here say; they disagree with you. They wrote things which imply that god belief is de facto corect. I labelled them for what they are: stupid comments.

So if Cal and I are to be labeled as trolls; looks like you either agree with the trolls, or with the ones you said irritate you, who write stupid comments.

Let me also point out what I said before, and I can only speak for myself but I have seen Cal do exactly the same: I reply to the silly things I read, never write anything out-of-the-blue first. When the tone changes, when insults fly, only then do I reply with the same. You just directly accused me of being a troll, someone who has nothing but garbage to write for disturbance and time wasting purposes; yet will I even come close to labelling you as such now? No, because I see what you mean; but you are just mistaken and, just like anyone, biased. So Cal and I comments look like trolling but Illion, B. Propkop, Planks Length, GRodriges, Crude, and some others, who literally write JUST to insult, sometimes, are never trolls?

Basically, it's amazing how intellectuals who believe in god think they have the default position, and some form of earned respect for their ideas. Even when agreeing that there are some nuances and evidence on both sides, it seems that you guys still cannot help but see the response to your evidence, to "your" people's claims, as nothing trolling, especially when the replies are to some ridiculous claims which you probably disgree with yourselves as well, but choose to ignore.

John Mitchell said...

"From your comments I gathered that you are a Christian (apologist)."

Let's see: I wrote the following:

"I totally agree with your contention that there is evidence on both sides of the God question."

I guess thats what Christian Apologists say all the time. They have this very liberal approach concerning the question of evidence for or against theism.

The first thing a Christian Apologist will tell you is that really the evidence regarding the God question is somewhat ambiguous.

John Mitchell said...

"John, I said exactly the same thing as you; that there are evidence on both sides and it's annoying to have people deny that."

Ok i guess i have to apologize to you for implying you are a troll


"But that's not what the other commentators here say; they disagree with you. They wrote things which imply that god belief is de facto corect. I labelled them for what they are: stupid comments."



Yeah but one of them is Ilion and i dont read what he has to say nor do i care and neither should you.



"So Cal and I comments look like trolling but Illion, B. Propkop, Planks Length, GRodriges, Crude, and some others, who literally write JUST to insult, sometimes, are never trolls?"


I really dont think B. Propkop, Planks Length, Grodriges or Crude are trolls. They might not always be the most polite commentators (I think B. Prokop is) but they are not trolls


My trolling accusation was not directed at people who think all the evidence is on one side of the scale. That's merely something i happen to disagree with.
I was referring to people who, in the year 2015, still bring things like the 'tooth-fairy' into discussions about theism.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "From your comments I gathered that you are a Christian (apologist)."
Mitchell: "Let's see: I wrote the following: [I totally agree with your contention that there is evidence on both sides of the God question.' / I guess thats what Christian Apologists say all the time. They have this very liberal approach concerning the question of evidence for or against theism."

Um, you then went on, in that same comment, to imply that I was a troll, and as a capper you closed with: Mitchell: "It has been almost ten years now since Dawkins published his wretched book and i dont see any good reason to seriously entertain the hope that people who in the context of debating theism mention the words 'leprechauns' and 'unicorns' will have anything even remotely interesting to say "

That's about as typical a paragraph I can imagine from a Christian apologist.

So, it seems that you are not denying that you are a Christian, and that you believe the things I said (and that I think are silly). So I am not sure that you are justified in being upset, really.

Mitchell: "The first thing a Christian Apologist will tell you is that really the evidence regarding the God question is somewhat ambiguous."

I've never heard a Christian apologist say this. Christian apologists seem to have one job -- hide the fact that there's actually no good evidence (that can't be much better explained) for the fantastical stories told in the bible. Saying that there's good evidence on both sides is really more like saying there's good evidence for the leprechauns and unicorns, in exactly the way I first stated. (Meaning that there are real-world referents to these things -- stories, painting, etc. -- but that outside these proxies there are no real world referents to which they refer. So, you see, in that way, the fantastical stories in the bible, and stories about leprechauns and unicorns, are exactly similar.)

Hugo Pelland said...

Fair enough John, thanks.
I also agree that the people listed here are not trolls; it's just a parallel with the fact that speech similar to theirs is labeled as 'trolling' when it comes from the 'other' side...

Note that, even if the tooth-fairy is indeed ridiculous, there 'can' be some serious points to be made when using it as an analogy, or as an example of objective concept we all understand. I won't go more into that now as I am on my phone but it's just not that simple I think...

John Mitchell said...

"Um, you then went on, in that same comment, to imply that I was a troll, and as a capper you closed with: Mitchell: "It has been almost ten years now since Dawkins published his wretched book and i dont see any good reason to seriously entertain the hope that people who in the context of debating theism mention the words 'leprechauns' and 'unicorns' will have anything even remotely interesting to say "

That's about as typical a paragraph I can imagine from a Christian apologist. "


That's about as typical a paragraph you should be able to imagine coming from anyone with at least half a brain



"Mitchell: "The first thing a Christian Apologist will tell you is that really the evidence regarding the God question is somewhat ambiguous."

I've never heard a Christian apologist say this."


Wow, you really might be on to something there

John Mitchell said...

"Note that, even if the tooth-fairy is indeed ridiculous, there 'can' be some serious points to be made when using it as an analogy"

I agree, in some cases thats true.

But i think these fairy-analogies are indeed more useful in pointing out why the debate about theism in general is not on par with the validation of any odd kind of superstition.

Cal Metzger said...

@John Mitchell, you really just made a bunch of assertions and insinuations then, when I pointed out that they appear hollow, you've simply repeated your assertions. It's good to see that you've backed off from the insinuations at least.

I think I've made my point, and unless you can respond with something (beyond what seems like bluster) that undermines that point I'm good.

John Mitchell said...

"I think I've made my point, and unless you can respond with something (beyond what seems like bluster) that undermines that point I'm good. "

Fine. Nothing could possibly enhance my peace of mind more than the certainty that nothing keeps you awake at night

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "Fine. Nothing could possibly enhance my peace of mind more than the certainty that nothing keeps you awake at night"

Hey, look at you, back to the insinuations.

And I'm supposed to be the troll here.

John Mitchell said...

"Hey, look at you, back to the insinuations.

And I'm supposed to be the troll here."


Its a cold world, after all.

Couldn't be the work of a decent leprechaun.

Legion of Logic said...

What I'm getting from this discussion is that it may be time for me to hang up my guns and retire from the New Atheist "discussion", since one thing I learned when clashing with them, along with social progressives, is that matching tone for tone almost always derails their strategy. The tradeoff is the complete destruction of any chance at dialogue, of course, but I think most of those people aren't interested in hearing, anyway. At any rate, ten years of doing this nonstop has apparently impeded my ability to be tactful, so...

John, I said exactly the same thing as you; that there are evidence on both sides and it's annoying to have people deny that. But that's not what the other commentators here say; they disagree with you. They wrote things which imply that god belief is de facto corect. I labelled them for what they are: stupid comments.

The "no evidence" trope is one of the charges from New Atheists that always amused me and that I finally began flinging back in their face. If the question is "Does the Christian God exist?", then yes I fully would agree that both sides have evidence. If the question involves atheism as a choice, I see no more likelihood of atheism being possible as I do of the earth spontaneously reversing its rotation. I don't know anything in scientific knowledge that supports it. And that's meant along the lines of "Oh, vaccines cause autism? Show me the evidence." I have yet to see the evidence that makes atheism a possible position to hold based on science - unless of course, the atheist is utilizing the Peter Boghossian definition of faith - even though New Atheists are the ones who claim to base their beliefs on evidence. So, I await the evidence for atheism. Shooting at God or Jesus is not evidence for atheism.

I fully acknowledge my hypocrisy in mocking atheists for "no evidence" accusations and then utilizing it myself, but I long ago lost my ability to be civil to New Atheists. You're right that I at the very least shouldn't open with such comments, particularly when the blast radius hits all atheists, so I do believe it's my time to retire, at least until I can separate serious people like you from people like...others.



David Brightly said...

Victor, could you say a bit more about what you mean by 'likely' in this context?

Hugo Pelland said...

Interesting Legion because I think exactly the same; also after 10 years, also after trying to match the tone of self-labeled rational Theists who pretend that their Logic is the only game in town.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: "If the question involves atheism as a choice, I see no more likelihood of atheism being possible as I do of the earth spontaneously reversing its rotation. I don't know anything in scientific knowledge that supports it. And that's meant along the lines of "Oh, vaccines cause autism? Show me the evidence." .... I fully acknowledge my hypocrisy in mocking atheists for "no evidence" accusations and then utilizing it myself, but I long ago lost my ability to be civil to New Atheists."

It seems like you lost the ability to understand the burden of proof as well.

Cal Metzger said...

I have time so I'm going to just point out, in a rhetorical (but accurate) way the problems in a single Legion paragraph? Why, because I have time, and it's true.

Legion: "The "no evidence" trope is one of the charges from New Atheists that always amused me and that I finally began flinging back in their face."

And the repercussions of this tu quoque are still being felt, I assure you.

Legion: If the question is "Does the Christian God exist?", then yes I fully would agree that both sides have evidence."

No. Neither side has evidence for the Christian god. One side admits this.

Legion: "If the question involves atheism as a choice, I see no more likelihood of atheism being possible as I do of the earth spontaneously reversing its rotation."

I don't really know what the above is even supposed to mean. Atheism isn't possible -- atheism is. Theism is possible, but it's not true. All you are doing is making it clear that (despite your claimed years of efforts) you still don't even understand the most basic criticism atheists bring forth. This is kind of boggling to me.

Legion: "I don't know anything in scientific knowledge that supports it."

If by scientific knowledge you mean evidence that can be examined reliably, verifiably, and objectively, then you are talking about a problem for Christian claims, not for atheists.

Legion: "And that's meant along the lines of "Oh, vaccines cause autism? Show me the evidence."

That vaccines cause autism is a positive claim. That the Christian god exists in reality is a positive claim. Put yourself out of the straightjacket you just put yourself in, and now explain why you will defend one set of beliefs one way, and another set of beliefs a different way.

Positive claims demand evidence. You say you understand this above with autism, but you take a different approach when it comes to not believing in the Christian god. And it appears that everytime you struggle to sort out why this should be the case, you blame what you call new atheists. Messengers, dude. We're messengers.

Legion: "I have yet to see the evidence that makes atheism a possible position to hold based on science - unless of course, the atheist is utilizing the Peter Boghossian definition of faith - even though New Atheists are the ones who claim to base their beliefs on evidence. So, I await the evidence for atheism. Shooting at God or Jesus is not evidence for atheism."

Atheists do base their lack of belief in gods on the evidence. We need some. Got any?

Cal Metzger said...

Pelland: "Interesting Legion because I think exactly the same; also after 10 years, also after trying to match the tone of self-labeled rational Theists who pretend that their Logic is the only game in town."

Your truth is high with this one.

Hugo Pelland said...

Thanks Cal; your longer analysis of Legion's comment is spot on as well.

The only detail I would point out though is that there is evidence on both sides, as the OP states, an there are good reasons to reject the evidence for theism. Maybe that's playing on words a little, but that seems to be the pet peeves of those who complain that Atheists say 'no evidence', when that's just a shortcut for 'the evidence presented is unconvincing, irrelevant, or completely false'.

What I find annoying is that they know that, but since their evidence is weak, they fight the word battle over 'no evidence'. So I am just preemptively replying to their response to your sentence that 'Neither side has evidence for the Christian god'...

Aron Zavaro said...

Legion of Logic,
You are misunderstanding the Bayesian approach to evidential arguments that Victor is adopting. You think that the existence of the universe is evidence in favor of theism over atheism. Fair enough. This means that P(universe|theism)>P(universe|atheism).

But how on Earth does this weaken Victor's claim that P(suffering|theism)<P(suffering|atheism)? Perhaps you think that suffering is even more unlikely on atheism because in order for people to suffer, there must first be a universe. But this fails to recognize that when you are weighing various pieces of evidence you must constantly be updating and conditioning your likelihood a on previous evidence, incorporating previous evidence into your background knowledge.

So the relevant question is whether P(suffering|theism & the existence of the universe)<P(suffering|atheism & the existence of the universe). Victor thinks this is true. Your challenge does nothing to undermine this.

Let's imagine (for the sake of argument) that the ratio of P(universe|theism) to P(universe|atheism) is a billions to 1. Now let's imagine (for the sake of argument) that the ratio of P(suffering|theism & the existence of the universe) to P(suffering|atheism & the existence of the universe) is a trillion to one. In this case, the evidence of suffering outweighs the evidence of the universe, and atheism wins.

Nothing in your first comment does anything to challenge any of this. A piece of evidence clearly can COUNTERBALANCE the force of another piece of evidence, but it cannot render another piece of relevant evidence evidentially irrelevant.

Aron Zavaro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aron Zavaro said...

Legion of Logic,

I want to make my previous post more precise. We want to know the competing probabilities of theism (T) and atheism (A) given to the data of the existence universe (U) and suffering (S)

Formally, we want to know:

P(T|U&S) and P(A|U&S)

Using the odds form of Bayes' theorem, we see that:

P(T|U&S)/P(A|U&S) = P(T)/P(A) x P(U&S|T)/P(U&S|A)

Because U and S are not conditionally independent, we can rewrite the formula like this:

P(T|U&S)/P(A|U&S) = P(T)/P(A) x P(U|T)xP(S|T&U)/P(U/A)xP(S|A&U)

P(S|A&U) can still be very high, even if P(U|A) is very low. And if this is true, then suffering can indeed be evidence for atheism.

John Mitchell said...

Cal Metzger:

"Positive claims demand evidence."


This is a positive claim.


Evidence, please

Cal Metzger said...

Me: (asking for the evidence that Christians claim support the claims of their faith): Positive claims demand evidence."

Mithcelll: "This is a positive claim. / Evidence, please."

First, "Positive claims demand evidence" is a principle about knowledge and how we acquire it. You are free to not accept this overwhelming sound principle, but that position for you would de facto deny the position of this post -- that there is evidence on both sides of the debate.

Second, do you know how sadly predictable it is that when asked for evidence for the tenets of Christianity someone on the apologists side would come up with "But what is evidence / knowledge REALLY?" sidetrack? Clocks are set to the atomic level with the predictability of that gambit.

John Mitchell said...

"First, "Positive claims demand evidence" is a principle about knowledge and how we acquire it. You are free to not accept this overwhelming sound principle, but that position for you would de facto deny the position of this post -- that there is evidence on both sides of the debate"

Nonsense.

One can deny the assertion 'Positive claims demand evidence' and still affirm the assertion that 'there is evidence on both sides of this debate'
Denying the first assertion does not equate denying the very existence of evidence, it simply means there may be some exception to this rule.

Plus, claiming that 'Positive claims demand evidence' commits you to having evidence for every positive claim you make. 'Positive claims demand evidence' is a positie claim so it's a self-referential sentence

So where is your evidence ???

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "One can deny the assertion 'Positive claims demand evidence' and still affirm the assertion that 'there is evidence on both sides of this debate' / Denying the first assertion does not equate denying the very existence of evidence, it simply means there may be some exception to this rule."

Then why bring this up if you think it's irrelevant? Why not just bring forth the "evidence" for the tenets of Christianity?

Mitchell: "Plus, claiming that 'Positive claims demand evidence' commits you to having evidence for every positive claim you make. 'Positive claims demand evidence' is a positie claim so it's a self-referential sentence"

Um, speaking of nonsense, no.

Stating the principle that positive claims demand evidence commits one to putting forth evidence in support of positive claims. That is all.

Mitchell: "So where is your evidence ???"

My evidence for what? You want evidence that positive claims demand evidence?

Um, okay. I give you the set of all commonly accepted positive claims (minus the minimum set of axioms, such as our existence, external reality, other minds, and maybe a few others), and the means we have for accepting them. And I give you the set of all positive claims that are not commonly accepted, and point out that these claims have in common a lack of evidence.

In order to deny the above, a function of the principle that positive claims are arbitrated by evidence (and the lack of them), you'd have to deny, well the evidence that this is what happens.

Do you really think you have a meaningful objection here, or are you done trying to wait out the clock on what is maybe one of the most tired of apologist playbook tactics:

1) Apologist: "We have good evidence?"
2) Skeptic: "Okay, what is it?"
3) Apologist: "Evidence isn't necessary."

Rinse. Repeat.





John Mitchell said...

"Then why bring this up if you think it's irrelevant?"

You made a nonsensical claim, i pointed out why its nonsensical. That is all.



"Stating the principle that positive claims demand evidence commits one to putting forth evidence in support of positive claims. That is all. "


Here is the sentence: 'Positive claims demand evidence'

Is that a claim? Yes

Then, given that it is true, it demands evidence.


Where is the goddamn evidence ??


Cal Metzger said...

Mithcell: "Where is the goddamn evidence ??"

I gave it to you above; I don't see how you could have missed it. But here it is, again: the observation that "I give you the set of all commonly accepted positive claims (minus the minimum set of axioms, such as our existence, external reality, other minds, and maybe a few others), and the means we have for accepting them. And I give you the set of all positive claims that are not commonly accepted, and point out that these claims have in common a lack of evidence."

1) Apologist: "We have good evidence?"
2) Skeptic: "Okay, what is it?"
3) Apologist: "Evidence isn't necessary! [Now getting angrier, never a good sign]"

Rinse. Repeat.

John Mitchell said...

"I give you the set of all commonly accepted positive claims (minus the minimum set of axioms, such as our existence, external reality, other minds, and maybe a few others), and the means we have for accepting them. And I give you the set of all positive claims that are not commonly accepted, and point out that these claims have in common a lack of evidence."

How is that evidence??

It is itself a claim: namely that commonly accepted claims have evidence supporting them, and that claims that are not commonly accepted dont.

1.Where is your evidence for that claim ??

2. More importantly: It is irrelevant.

What enters into the set of all commonly accepted positive claims depends on human psychology and sociology.
Whether or not people accept positive claims based on evidence and reject them for a lack of it or not is irrelevant because all that does is tell us what people do or don't

You are trying to give evidence for your claim??

Then give evidence and dont come up with non-sense

Crude said...

Claims require evidence.

This 'positive claims' qualifier is what it always is - unintelligent, cowardly bullshit proffered by people who want to both make claims, yet not defend them or offer evidence.

If you say 'God does not exist', you've made a claim. Give your evidence.
If you say 'Naturalism is true', you've made a claim. Give your evidence.
If you say 'God most likely does not exist', you've made a claim. Give your evidence.

If you want to give no evidence, what you have to retreat to is a lack of claims. Which is going to mean giving up some precious territory.

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "How is that evidence??"

Um, in the way that evidence is commonly referred to; in that way.

An analogy:
A Claim: "There are owls."
Mitchell: "What is the evidence for this."
Reply: "All those things that fit the description of what we call owls -- they include all barn owls, screech owls, the snowy and spotted, etc."
Mitchell: "How is that evidence??"

I don't know what to say at this point. I can provide evidence for my positive claims, I just can't make you want to or be capable of understanding them; my powers are so limited.

"It is itself a claim: namely that commonly accepted claims have evidence supporting them, and that claims that are not commonly accepted dont."

Yup. And as evidence that my claim is true, I give you these two sets, for you get your head around, compare, and see that they support my claim.


Cal Metzger said...

Crude: "This 'positive claims' qualifier is what it always is - unintelligent, cowardly bullshit proffered by people who want to both make claims, yet not defend them or offer evidence."

Ooh, these people sound so super mean. Stay away from them, everybody!

Crude: "If you want to give no evidence, what you have to retreat to is a lack of claims. Which is going to mean giving up some precious territory."

Um, and the inverse of this would also be true; that if you want to make claims, you need to provide evidence.

It seems that we agree.

Crude said...

Ooh, these people sound so super mean. Stay away from them, everybody!

Stay away from them? I seek 'em out, Cali. They are tremendously fun to mock. They imagine themselves as super mean. 'Super pathetic' is the actuality.

Um, and the inverse of this would also be true; that if you want to make claims, you need to provide evidence.

I love how you point out 'the inverse', as if it's fucking news, as opposed to literally the exact thing I've been saying here. "Claims require evidence."

John Mitchell said...

"I can provide evidence for my positive claims, I just can't make you want to or be capable of understanding them; my powers are so limited."

Epic fail!

You are really just an embarrassment

Provide evidence or shut up

Aron Zavaro said...

The claim that "all positive claims require evidence" can be interpreted as the hypothetical imperative "IF you want you beliefs to be as accurate as possible, THEN you should have positive evidence for them." This is not an existence claim, like "there is life on Mars," but rather an instruction. And there is good evidence that th IF/THEN relationship of the claim is true. You're beliefs are obviously more likely to be accurate if you base them on reasons than if you just adopt them for no reason at all. The ratio of true to false beliefs is much higher among the set of beliefs that are based on evidence than the ratio of true to false beliefs that are believed for no reason.

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "Epic fail! / You are really just an embarrassment"

I stand by my prior comments and that you don't understand them -- you seem bent on shouting "Evidence for evidence!" or some such in a kind of taunt that you think demonstrates... I don't know what.

Mitchell: "Provide evidence or shut up"

Nice manners, by the way. Will you be me making the same petulant demands of Crude?

And this on the same thread where it's been insinuated that Hugo and I act like the trolls here.

Cal Metzger said...

Zavaro: "The claim that "all positive claims require evidence" can be interpreted as the hypothetical imperative "IF you want you beliefs to be as accurate as possible, THEN you should have positive evidence for them." This is not an existence claim, like "there is life on Mars," but rather an instruction. And there is good evidence that th IF/THEN relationship of the claim is true. You're beliefs are obviously more likely to be accurate if you base them on reasons than if you just adopt them for no reason at all. The ratio of true to false beliefs is much higher among the set of beliefs that are based on evidence than the ratio of true to false beliefs that are believed for no reason."

Correct. Thank you for demonstrating how one can grasp what is a fairly easy concept.

John Mitchell said...

Aron Zavaro :
"The claim that "all positive claims require evidence" can be interpreted as the hypothetical imperative "IF you want you beliefs to be as accurate as possible, THEN you should have positive evidence for them."

Can it?? Maybe... then again... maybe not. However i am not into the hermeneutics of Gnu trolling so i take their statements at face value

Cal whatever:

"Correct. Thank you for demonstrating how one can grasp what is a fairly easy concept."

If your statement was to be interpreted as a hypothetical imperative you would have made clear that that was what you meant HOURS AGO.
Stop acting like he 'understood' anything you meant to say when he is, in fact, simply trying to save your face by finding an 'interpretation' of your nonsense that isnt blatantly self-undermining

Cal :
"I stand by my prior comments and that you don't understand them -- you seem bent on shouting "Evidence for evidence!" or some such in a kind of taunt that you think demonstrates... I don't know what.

Nice manners, by the way. Will you be me making the same petulant demands of Crude?

And this on the same thread where it's been insinuated that Hugo and I act like the trolls here."


Translation: "Mein Fuhrer, i can walk"

Hugo Pelland said...

It seems to me that Cal is simply saying that reason works; claims are proven, or disproven, using evidence, logic and reason, or only reason, in short, which represents that process as a whole.

John, and perhaps Crude if he is not just trolling, is thus arguing against reason, as if reason may or may not work; but the second you start to do so, you do use reason.

Every now and then, I link to this great TED talk which shows an accurate way to balance reason with other means of determining what's right; spoiler alert, in the end, reason is always our best tool. And reason, by definition, requires evidence:
http://youtu.be/uk7gKixqVNU

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "If your statement was to be interpreted as a hypothetical imperative you would have made clear that that was what you meant HOURS AGO."

Actually, I did make that point hours ago. Actually, that was my first point in reply to you. In that comment, I wrote:

Me: "First, "Positive claims demand evidence" is a principle about knowledge and how we acquire it. You are free to not accept this overwhelming sound principle, but that position for you would de facto deny the position of this post -- that there is evidence on both sides of the debate. "

False pride much?

John Mitchell said...

"It seems to me that Cal is simply saying that reason works; claims are proven, or disproven, using evidence, logic and reason, or only reason, in short, which represents that process as a whole."

Nobody is arguing against reason or evidence.
Cal's statement is simply self-undermining. That doesn't mean reason is useless or that evidence is unnecessary.

Hugo Pelland said...

Correct John, but can you reason without evidence regarding what you're reasoning about?

John Mitchell said...

Cal Butcher:

" " Mitchell: "If your statement was to be interpreted as a hypothetical imperative you would have made clear that that was what you meant HOURS AGO."

Actually, I did make that point hours ago. Actually, that was my first point in reply to you. In that comment, I wrote:

Me: "First, "Positive claims demand evidence" is a principle about knowledge and how we acquire it. You are free to not accept this overwhelming sound principle, but that position for you would de facto deny the position of this post -- that there is evidence on both sides of the debate. "


You have no idea what a hypothetical imperative is or you are simply dishonest.




In either case, you are not worth talking to.


Have a nice life.


Peace on earth

John Mitchell said...

"Correct John, but can you reason without evidence regarding what you're reasoning about?"

Once again, im not saying evidence is unnecessary.

If you want to formulate a general epistemological principle that identifies the relation between assertions and evidence: fine. But dont fall into the usual pit traps that come along with self-referential statements
I am not sure i can do it. Thats why there are people who actually get PhD's in philosphy specializing in epistemology

Hugo Pelland said...

You are not saying evidence is unnecessary, but you are also not saying evidence is necessary?

John Mitchell said...

"You are not saying evidence is unnecessary, but you are also not saying evidence is necessary? "

I dont think that evidence can be provided for any kind of claim.

'Evidence is always necessary for any kind of claim to truth'

Given that it is true, I dont even know what kind of evidence could, in principle, be provided to satisfy the demand of this claim in reference to itself

Hugo Pelland said...

Evidence cannot be provided for axioms, which are self-evident. Anything else is supported by evidence, which includes axioms as building blocks. So any non-axiomatic claim is either true, or not, based on the evidence for it. No?

What kind of evidence is missing to explain what kind of claims?

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "Cal's statement is simply self-undermining...."
Hugo: "Correct John..."

How is my stating that positive claims demand evidence self refuting? It's a principle about knowledge, much like Occam's Razor. And it's a way or mode of conduct regarding our approach to a topic or activity, like a hypothetical imperative.

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "You have no idea what a hypothetical imperative is or you are simply dishonest."

This is rich from someone who has shown no idea how to comprehend my simple statements and has falsely accused me of shifting my position.

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "If you want to formulate a general epistemological principle that identifies the relation between assertions and evidence: fine. But dont fall into the usual pit traps that come along with self-referential statements"

Pitfalls like what?

This seems like such an apologist canard -- that principles about knowledge (like that positive claims demand evidence) can be portrayed as self-refuting, and then... what? What are these usual pit traps (pit traps?). What is supposed to go so horribly awry by exercising the principle that positive claims demand evidence?

The fact is that there doesn't seem to be any problem whatsoever. And another apologist objection goes... poof.

Cal Metzger said...

Hugo: "Evidence cannot be provided for axioms, which are self-evident. Anything else is supported by evidence, which includes axioms as building blocks. So any non-axiomatic claim is either true, or not, based on the evidence for it. No? / What kind of evidence is missing to explain what kind of claims?"

Yes to all of this.

Apologists like to pretend that there is something terrible and so horrible and unspeakable that happens when they say a principle about knowledge can be portrayed as self-refuting, but they seem to consistently fail to identify this terrible outcome. It's so horrible, I think, that they dare not speak of it.

Also, please notice how a post that asserts that there is good evidence for Christian tenets (e.g., the trinity, the virgin birth, and the resurrection) and the comments from apologist commenters fails, consistently, to put forth the good evidence for these tenets.

It seems they would all, literally, talk about anything else.

I wonder why that is?

Crude said...

John, and perhaps Crude if he is not just trolling, is thus arguing against reason, as if reason may or may not work;

No, you slow, slow person.

I'm pointing out that claims require evidence. Bracketing it as 'positive claims' adds nothing, and is a dishonest dodge.

Claim 'God does not exist', and you're still making a claim - it's time to provide evidence. You've got a burden of proof to meet. Fail to meet that burden, and no one can be blamed for rejecting your claim.

Crude said...

Also, please notice how a post that asserts that there is good evidence for Christian tenets (e.g., the trinity, the virgin birth, and the resurrection) and the comments from apologist commenters fails, consistently, to put forth the good evidence for these tenets.

Please notice that the original post refers to God's existence - even the qualifier 'Christian' was not used - yet Cal somehow finds 'the trinity, the virgin birth, and the resurrection' in the original post, proceeding to complain about that.

What's it going to be, ladies and gentlemen? Is he simply full of shit, or just slow and rather incapable of comprehending things easily?

Cal Metzger said...

Crude: "Please notice that the original post refers to God's existence - even the qualifier 'Christian' was not used - yet Cal somehow finds 'the trinity, the virgin birth, and the resurrection' in the original post, proceeding to complain about that."

You are correct.

Does this change anything? Is there only good evidence for a god, but not for the tenets of Christianity?

Crude said...

Does this change anything?

Yes, it changes something. You just accused everyone here of manifest cowardice for thus far refusing to offer a defense of claims that wasn't even made in the post. That before realizing that the lion's share of the comment section has been taken over by your dispute with Mitchell, for good or ill.

You were wrong. You made a false charge.

Is there only good evidence for a god, but

Let's stop right here, and make an important point: evidence for God, period, undercuts atheism. If God exists - if a billion gods exist - atheism is false. That's pretty substantial, well before the question of Christianity itself comes up.

By the by - what's your opinion of someone who claims 'I believe what I believe about God! I can't even think of evidence that would change my view!'? Is that position - that evidence is an irrelevant factor when it comes to their beliefs about God - rational?

Cal Metzger said...

Crude: "I'm pointing out that claims require evidence. Bracketing it as 'positive claims' adds nothing, and is a dishonest dodge."

Do you claim that unicorns and leprechauns and Thor don't exist? What is the evidence that you provide to deny the existence of these things? Or do you believe they all exist?

Asking for a friend.

Crude said...

I asked my questions first, Cal. Answer mine and I'll answer yours. And if you refuse, well, I'm going to draw a conclusion of my own.

Victor Reppert said...

'Positive claims demand evidence'

OK, here's a positive claim for you. "My sense experience gives me veridical knowledge of a physical world independent of my mind."

What is the evidence for this one?

grodrigues said...

@Hugo Pelland:

"So Cal and I comments look like trolling but Illion, B. Propkop, Planks Length, GRodriges, Crude, and some others, who literally write JUST to insult, sometimes, are never trolls?"

Your idiotic comment notwithstanding, you should check your spelling. By "Illion" you must mean "Ilíon" and by "GRodriges" I presume you mean "grodrigues".

John Mitchell said...

"Evidence cannot be provided for axioms, which are self-evident. Anything else is supported by evidence, which includes axioms as building blocks. So any non-axiomatic claim is either true, or not, based on the evidence for it. No? "

I could agree that that is reasonable but its not very helpful either.
For once, it doesn't seem to me to be self-evident itself.

On another note, in logic 'axiom' seems simply to be equivalent to premise.
If you want 'axiom' to mean 'undeniable truth' then that's fine, but there are few of those.

Maybe you will have to broaden the definition from the narrow focus on evidence and include the more general notion of 'reasons'
There may not be 'evidence' in a strict sense for some axioms, nevertheless there can be good reasons to accept them

David Brightly said...

Suppose the theists are right and there is God and he is a necessary being. What does it actually mean to say that the degree and kind of pain and suffering that exists in the world does seem to be something that is more likely without God than with God? There is no 'without God' and there cannot be. So how are we to understand 'more likely without God'?

Cal Metzger said...

Crude: "I asked my questions first, Cal. Answer mine and I'll answer yours. And if you refuse, well, I'm going to draw a conclusion of my own."

Which question are you referring to?

Ilíon said...

"Your idiotic comment notwithstanding, you should check your spelling. By "Illion" you must mean "Ilíon" and by "GRodriges" I presume you mean "grodrigues"."

I wonder if he spells "God" as "god" and "Bible" as "bible" ... and "Jesus" as "jeebus"?

John Mitchell said...

David Brightly:
"There is no 'without God' and there cannot be"

If that is your position then you dont need to bother with arguments against God's existence at all, definitely not inductive ones.

Hugo Pelland said...

Regarding mispelling names, yep, my bad! It's funny because I figured it was probably wrong but didn't bother checking...

.God vs god would depend what we're talking about...
.Bible is always with a capital B of course
.I don't see the point of using a funny name for Jesus

You guys have something meaningful to add?

Crude said...

Which question are you referring to?

December 13, 2015 7:28 PM

Cal Metzger said...

Crude: "By the by - what's your opinion of someone who claims 'I believe what I believe about God! I can't even think of evidence that would change my view!'? Is that position - that evidence is an irrelevant factor when it comes to their beliefs about God - rational?"

I don't have a high opinion of that person. I don't think that belief in a meaningful god -- one who interacts with this world, who cares about the universe and what happens in it, etc. -- is compatible with someone who says they believe in such a god without regard to the evidence.

Now will you answer my question?

My Question: "Do you claim that unicorns and leprechauns and Thor don't exist? What is the evidence that you provide to deny the existence of these things? Or do you believe they all exist? "

David Brightly said...

It isn't. I would like somebody to explain to me what 'more likely' means in this context. Nobody else finds it problematic so it shouldn't be difficult!

Cal Metzger said...

Crude: "I asked my questions first, Cal. Answer mine and I'll answer yours. And if you refuse, well, I'm going to draw a conclusion of my own."
Me (answering question): "I don't have a high opinion of that person. I don't think that belief in a meaningful god -- one who interacts with this world, who cares about the universe and what happens in it, etc. -- is compatible with someone who says they believe in such a god without regard to the evidence."

My question to Crude: " "Do you claim that unicorns and leprechauns and Thor don't exist? What is the evidence that you provide to deny the existence of these things? Or do you believe they all exist?"

Crude: Crickets....