(split) Atheism and acceptance of science

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SAM:

Take for example the claim "I will not win the lottery this coming Saturday." Do you think it is reasonable to believe this (negative) claim, or not?
 
I'm done editing my post now ;). Please read it and then understand why it is folly to go on about negative claims.

Also, let's please return to the original issue of whether science and atheism are "incompatible." That is what we are interested in: not whether atheism is a good position to take. That discussion, while well worth having, should be saved for another thread.
 
Not until this coming Saturday has passed and I can see for myself you haven't one a lottery.
 
It is a fact that there once was no life on earth and that now there is.
yes, correct.
countless thousands of scientists the world over has tried to figure out exactly how it got here, in the process they established the scientific law of biogenesis. this law has not been refuted one single time

There is a great deal about abiogenesis that is unknown, . . .
yes, like everything about it.
there is no supporting evidence for it, except for the presence of life.
even the very notion of things becoming alive is absurd.
 
You apparently didn't read my post. As I said and as I'll repeat, there is nothing logically wrong with proving or disproving a negative claim. It's easy, as I have shown. The issue at hand is proving an inductive claim. More on this below.

You can't prove it -- it's unprovable. No one is disputing that. But as I said, this has nothing to do with the fact that it's a negative claim, and everything to do with the fact that it's an inductive claim, which means that it would take an infinite number of empirical observations to prove or disprove it. Since it is not possible to make an infinite number of observations, the claim can't be proven or disproven.

I'm not trying to argue for the feasibility or infeasibility of atheism, which is obviously the argument you're trying to draw me into. It should be clear that this is not the point of this thread.

I'll show you the difference with the response to the comment below:
Neither is easier to prove. They are both inductive claims, and thus they are both unprovable. No finite amount of empirical observations of white swans could rule out the possibility of a black swan, just as no finite amount of empirical observations of black swans could rule out the possibility of a white swan. That one is a positive claim and one is a negative claim is completely irrelevant, as I've repeatedly stated.

Its not irrelevant.

The claim: swans are white is easily disproved by producing one black swan [even one produced in a lab with gene modification]

The claim: there are no black swans cannot be proved unless one is capable of examining all swans in the world, including past and future ones to reach a conclusion on the absence of black swans.
1) That argument is indeed unsound and invalid, but not because it involves a negative claim. It's invalid because it reaches the conclusion by affirming the consequent, which is a logical fallacy.

2) How does this argument relate to atheism anyway?

It relates to atheism because there is a claim made which is negative and which can NEVER be proved or disproved. But the important point, which goes to the compatibility with science is that it can also NEVER be tested, since it effectively destroys any possibility that any claim can ever be made.

To get back on topic: I am not arguing for or against atheism, or for or against science. I am arguing that it doesn't make sense to say that the two are incompatible with each other. See post #28 for the reason why.

You're the only one here actually debating the argument with me. For that, I thank you.
 
Take for example the claim "I will not win the lottery this coming Saturday." Do you think it is reasonable to believe this (negative) claim, or not?

Not until this coming Saturday has passed and I can see for myself you haven't one a lottery.

So, it's a 50-50 chance that I'll wake up on Sunday morning to find that I'm $4 million richer. You think? Sounds like I ought to go out and buy a ticket.

Do you agree that its a picture drawing of a unicorn?

Yes, but a drawing of a thing is not the thing itself, is it? Have you ever heard of fantasy or mythology, SAM, or do you believe that every story ever made up is real?
 
So, it's a 50-50 chance that I'll wake up on Sunday morning to find that I'm $4 million richer. You think? Sounds like I ought to go out and buy a ticket.
Sure, those are much better odds than the stock market.


Yes, but a drawing of a thing is not the thing itself, is it? Have you ever heard of fantasy or mythology, SAM, or do you believe that every story ever made up is real?

But you agree that its a unicorn?
 
The claim: swans are white is easily disproved by producing one black swan [even one produced in a lab with gene modification]

The "ease" of disproving such a claim varies from claim to claim, though, doesn't it? Not all claims are so easily disproved. For example, consider:

"All electrons have the same electrical charge."

Would that be an "easy" claim to disprove, SAM? It seems to me that this would require examining all electrons in the universe. And here, playing around in the lab trying deliberately to create an electron with different charge may well never bear fruit.

In other words, the positive or negative nature of a claim alone does not determine how hard it is to prove or disprove. Some negative claims are easy to prove and some positive claims are impossible to prove.
 
Which is why scientists never claim that they are speaking for all electrons in the universe. Its why we have models and never pretend that one model can be extrapolated to all systems.
 
Sure, those are much better odds than the stock market.

My advice to you, SAM, is never ever gamble, because it is clear that you have no understanding of basic probability.

But you agree that its a unicorn?

Wasn't I clear? I said it is a picture of a unicorn. You know the difference between a picture and a real object, don't you SAM?
 
My advice to you, SAM, is never ever gamble, because it is clear that you have no understanding of basic probability.

Well I'd say a 50-50 chance is a hell of a lot better than a sinking economy.

Wasn't I clear? I said it is a picture of a unicorn. You know the difference between a picture and a real object, don't you SAM?

Why do you say its a picture of a unicorn? Have you seen a unicorn?
 
The claim: swans are white is easily disproved by producing one black swan [even one produced in a lab with gene modification]

The claim: there are no black swans cannot be proved unless one is capable of examining all swans in the world, including past and future ones to reach a conclusion on the absence of black swans.
1) Can you not see that these are the same claim? To say that all swans are white is to say that there are no black swans. It's two different ways of making the same claim. This alone should indicate to you the nonsense of negative claims being invalid, since any positive claim can also be expressed in terms of its negation.

Consider also that proving that you can't prove a negative would, in fact, require proving a negative! After all, "you can't prove a negative" is a negative claim.

2) Because we are dealing with a single claim here, the issue clearly is proof vs disproof. (Note: not "positive claims" versus "negative claims"!) And as I clearly said in post #33, both claims (which are really one claim) are unprovable. So I'll repeat myself again: that one is a positive claim and one is a negative claim is irrelevant. It is in fact the same claim expressed as a positive and then as a negative, just as any claim can also be expressed in terms of its negation.

3) Yes or No: will you return to the topic of the "incompatibility" of science and atheism and address my points in post #28?
 
1) Can you not see that these are the same claim? To say that all swans are white is to say that there are no black swans. It's two different ways of making the same claim. This alone should indicate to you the nonsense of negative claims being invalid, since any positive claim can also be expressed in terms of its negation.

No there could be pink swans. Which would disprove the white swans but not prove the black swans. Its not the same.
Consider also that proving that you can't prove a negative would, in fact, require proving a negative! After all, "you can't prove a negative" is a negative claim.

Quite, which only shows how ridiculous it becomes to go down that path.

e.g. birds have no gills
you have no gills
you are bird.

2) Because we are dealing with a single claim here, the issue clearly is proof vs disproof. (Note: not "positive claims" versus "negative claims"!) And as I clearly said in post #33, both claims (which are really one claim) are unprovable. So I'll repeat myself again: that one is a positive claim and one is a negative claim is irrelevant. It is in fact the same claim expressed as a positive and then as a negative, just as any claim can also be expressed in terms of its negation.

Nope its not the same.

3) Yes or No: will you return to the topic of the "incompatibility" of science and atheism and address my points in post #28?

I thought I was, which claims have I overlooked?
 
SAM:

Which is why scientists never claim that they are speaking for all electrons in the universe. Its why we have models and never pretend that one model can be extrapolated to all systems.

Equivalently, we could say that reasonable atheists have a model universe in which God provisionally does not exist. The door is always open to the possibility that God does exist, but some positive evidence to that effect is required.

That's not unusual, either. We don't believe that a giant teapot orbiting the Sun exists, even though such a thing is possible. We don't believe that fairies exist, even though such a thing might be possible. In short, we don't pretend we know everything about the world and what is in it and what is not. But the default position is that things do not exist unless there's at least some evidence for believing on a balance of probabilities that they do.

Unfortunately, it appears that any discussion of probability is going to go right over your head, so I'm probably wasting my breath.

Well I'd say a 50-50 chance is a hell of a lot better than a sinking economy.

My chances of winning the lottery this Saturday aren't 50-50 SAM, even if for some bizarre reason you think they are. In fact, they are more like 50 million to one against.

What you are saying is that you are incapable of saying what is more likely: that I will or will not win the lottery this Saturday.

You must find this inability to grasp basic probability to be a severe impediment in your daily life. How do you cope?

Why do you say its a picture of a unicorn? Have you seen a unicorn?

Not if unicorns look anything like that picture. On the other hand, I've seen plenty of pictures like that before, and every time I've seen one somebody has said it is a picture of a unicorn.
 
SAM:

Equivalently, we could say that reasonable atheists have a model universe in which God provisionally does not exist. The door is always open to the possibility that God does exist, but some positive evidence to that effect is required.

What part of "There is no God" covers all that? What would you accept as "positive evidence" of God?

That's not unusual, either. We don't believe that a giant teapot orbiting the Sun exists, even though such a thing is possible. We don't believe that fairies exist, even though such a thing might be possible. In short, we don't pretend we know everything about the world and what is in it and what is not. But the default position is that things do not exist unless there's at least some evidence for believing on a balance of probabilities that they do.

Correct. And my default position is that believing in a random universe makes no sense when scientifically, we assume cause and effect to understand any portion of it.
Unfortunately, it appears that any discussion of probability is going to go right over your head, so I'm probably wasting my breath.

Maybe you need to develop a sense of humor?
My chances of winning the lottery this Saturday aren't 50-50 SAM, even if for some bizarre reason you think they are. In fact, they are more like 50 million to one against.

You don't say?
What you are saying is that you are incapable of saying what is more likely: that I will or will not win the lottery this Saturday.

No I am saying that I can wait till Saturday to find out if its true. Plenty of people buy lottery tickets on that expectation [I am not one of them, I play the stock market for fun]
You must find this inability to grasp basic probability to be a severe impediment in your daily life. How do you cope?

I believe. :D


Not if unicorns look anything like that picture. On the other hand, I've seen plenty of pictures like that before, and every time I've seen one somebody has said it is a picture of a unicorn.

So if your kid was to show you that picture and ask you what it is, what would you say?
 
e.g. birds have no gills
you have no gills
you are bird.

Did you miss the TWO explanations of the error in this? It is an error of logic - a fallacy - known as "affirming the consequent". Here's another example, in positive form:

1. Birds have legs.
2. My dog has legs.
3. Therefore, my dog is a bird.

Statement #1 can be written:

"If X is a bird, then X has legs."

The converse of this is:

"If X has legs, then X is a bird."

Quite clearly, the statement does not imply its converse, but this is what is assumed in the faulty example above.

A statement in which the converse MUST apply would be of the form:

"X has legs IF AND ONLY IF it is a bird."

which is equivalent to:

"X is a bird IF AND ONLY IF it has legs."

(Beware of misconstruing the language of formal logic in the term "IF AND ONLY IF", by the way. This can be given a very clear and precise mathematical definition, where the logical operator "IF AND ONLY IF" is called "equivalence", whereas the simple "IF" is called "implication".)
 
No there could be pink swans. Which would disprove the white swans but not prove the black swans. Its not the same.
*facepalm*

What you've done here is change the claim to being "some swans are white." It has been understood from the start that the claim "swans are white" is meant as "all swans are white." After all, if you were merely saying that some swans are white, then you would have been incorrect in stating:
The claim: swans are white is easily disproved by producing one black swan
But by making the above statement, you confirmed that the claim was properly interpreted as: all swans are white. After all, producing one black swan wouldn't disprove the claim that some swans are white.

Sorry, but you can't change your mind now.

And if the claim had been "some swans are white," what would that have even pertained to? It's not an inductive claim, it's not a negative claim, it has nothing to do with anything in this thread!

So yes -- they are the same claim.

I thought I was, which claims have I overlooked?
This whole section:
Hold it right there. This may or may not be true for any given atheist, but it is not central to the tenet of atheism. Atheism is the belief that there is not a divine creator -- nothing more, nothing less. It's fair to say that most atheists hold the view that you are ascribing to them, namely that claims require proof. But importantly, this view in itself is not what makes one an atheist. The correct definition apparently bears repeating so I'll repeat it: Atheism is the belief that there is not a divine creator -- nothing more, nothing less. The question of how the atheist has arrived at this belief is irrelevant to their atheism.
 
Did you miss the TWO explanations of the error in this? It is an error of logic - a fallacy - known as "affirming the consequent". Here's another example, in positive form:

1. Birds have legs.
2. My dog has legs.
3. Therefore, my dog is a bird.

Statement #1 can be written:

"If X is a bird, then X has legs."

The converse of this is:

"If X has legs, then X is a bird."

Quite clearly, the statement does not imply its converse, but this is what is assumed in the faulty example above.

A statement in which the converse MUST apply would be of the form:

"X has legs IF AND ONLY IF it is a bird."

which is equivalent to:

"X is a bird IF AND ONLY IF it has legs."

(Beware of misconstruing the language of formal logic in the term "IF AND ONLY IF", by the way. This can be given a very clear and precise mathematical definition, where the logical operator "IF AND ONLY IF" is called "equivalence", whereas the simple "IF" is called "implication".)

I agree. Now try all of the above with negative claims.
 
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