Arguments and evidence for deism, theism, and miracles

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Arguments and evidence for deism, theism, and miracles

Post #1

Post by otseng »

We have agreed to debate the following:

Is there sufficient evidence to conclude the existence of a deistic God?

And if so, is there sufficient evidence to conclude a theistic worldview whereby this God intervenes in human affairs? Specifically, is there evidentiary justification for concluding that some claims of intervention are authentic whereas others aren't.

---

A thread has been created for followers of this debate to post comments:
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... hp?t=24538
Last edited by otseng on Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #181

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote:
otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: This universe is no more "fine-tuned" than a universe that had completely different physical constants would be fine-tuned.
If the universe had no matter, no stars, no planets, and no life, would it be equally fine-tuned as a universe with matter, stars, planets, and life?
Well, there is no doubt of that.
That would be like saying it doesn't matter what the pitch of the E string of a guitar is. Or the A string, or D, G, B, high E. If the strings didn't have the pitch that it has, then it would have a different pitch. No matter what the pitch is of the strings, it is fine-tuned.
Well that's absolutely true!

The wikipedia definition of fine-tuning, as it applies to this analogy, is simply the uncontroversial observation that the note created by a string is directly dependent upon turning the peg, and that if the peg had been turned even slightly differently, the pitch of the string would change dramatically.

This is irrefutably true no matter what the pitch.

You are trying to sneak into the analogy the implicit fact that a guitar tuned EADGBE is preferable to one where, say, half the strings are a quarter-tone flat. Who is it preferable to? It's preferable to THE PERSON WHO TUNED THE GUITAR.

Is it reasonable, if you stumble upon a guitar which is in tune, to presuppose that it was tuned by a person? Yes.

Why is it reasonable? Because there is irrefutable, undeniable, conclusive, rock solid, direct, empirical evidence that PEOPLE WHO TUNE GUITARS EXIST.

In this case, you're not trying to use the fact that the guitar you stumbled upon is tuned, as evidence that people who tune guitars exist. There is external, separate, independent empirical evidence that people who tune guitars exist.

Empirical independent evidence that guitars are tuned to EADGBE by people + empirical independent evidence that the guitar in question is tuned to EADGBE = reasonable conclusion that the guitar was tuned by a person.

If all of humanity was wiped out, and the only trace of our existence that was left were two guitars, one in tune, and one out of tune, and 13 billion years later an alien species were to find those two guitars, they would NOT be able to identify which one the tuned guitar is. Do you understand?
Are you saying that if the attributes were something other than matter, stars, planets and life, then it wouldn't be true that those attributes are caused by the physical constants? The causal link between constants and attributes are ALL that the wikipedia definition provides. That is indubitably applicable no matter what the constants and no matter what the resulting attributes.
The issue is why are the physical constants the way that they are, not why do the constants cause matter, stars, planets, and life.
I understand that. The wiki definition just poses the question "Why are the physical constants are the way they are".

I can think of several possibilities, all of which fall under one of two different umbrellas:

1) Some kind of unspecified event involving intelligence.

2) Some kind of unspecified event not involving intelligence.

I am in total agreement that we have to try to identify which one of these two types of explanations has more logic and evidence in its support.
Link it and prove me wrong.
If you agree that we don't need to rehash past arguments, there is no need to me to provide a link.
As long as we agree that so far every single argument you've attempted failed, then we don't need to rehash the past.

If we don't agree on that, then it's crucial that we sort that out before proceeding.

Lets not waste any more time on this. Just present a link to an argument you made that didn't end with a concession from you, an agreement to disagree because the topic wasn't considered crucial to the broader debate, or an agreement to defer the subject to later discussion. If you do not provide this link, then I'll just agree to put the topic to rest, with the understanding that you accept my position.
That intelligence was involved is a VALID presupposition in this case, and attempting to figure out who this intelligence was, is a somewhat valid endeavor.
Why is intelligence a valid presupposition?
Because there is overwhelming, conclusive, direct, extremely solid, verifiable, falsifiable, irrefutable, abundant, empirical evidence the "more than a woman" was created by a human being.

This overwhelming empirical evidence that the creator of "more than a woman" was a human being is INDEPENDENT of the song itself. You aren't trying to use the song as evidence of the singer or the singer as evidence of the song.

The fact that the song exists is independently and empirically verified. The fact that songs are created by people is independently and empirically verified. The conclusion is drawn by combining these two established facts.

1) All songs are recorded by human beings
2) "More than a woman" is a song
3) Therefore "More than a woman" was recorded by a human being.

On the basis of empirical evidence independently supporting BOTH the premises of the syllogism, the conclusion is valid. Therefore it's ok to presuppose an intelligent creator when trying to determine who created "More than a woman".

The same CANNOT be said of the universe, unless you can back up the following syllogism:

1) All universes are created by God
2) Our universe is one of those universes
3) Therefore our universe was created by God


Here is a more accurate analogy: We hear rocks rumbling and wood breaking. You allege that this is a recording being played over loudspeakers, which came to exist under the supervision of minimalistic postmodernist musical composer Phillip Glass, and I allege that no intelligent composer was involved in these sounds happening, that it's just the result of an avalanche of rocks breaking some trees - a purely naturalistic mechanistic event not involving intelligence.

We are BOTH offering an explanation.
Actually, I agree. But saying it is NOT Phillip Glass is different from saying it's an avalanche of rocks.
You are proposing that it was an event orchestrated by an intelligence, much like a minimalistic composition being orchestrated by Phillip Glass, and I am proposing that it was a mechanistic event with no intelligence involved, much like the sounds of an avalanche.
Again, saying it is an avalanche is different from saying no intelligence is involved. There are other mechanistic explanations other than an avalance. It could be a tornado, earthquake, mudslide, a bunch of monkeys pushing rocks, etc.
Right. And there are other postmodern minimalist composers than Philip Glass.

I would like to revise the analogy I presented. This is the scenario: We hear some sounds of rocks falling and wood splintering.

You are NOT saying "This is the Philip Glass composition called 'sticks and stones' which was recorded in 1975". You are not even saying "This is a composition by Philip Glass". You're just saying "These sounds were created by an unspecified intelligent entity". And I am saying "These sounds were created by an unspecified non-intelligent process".

You aren't providing any more detail that I am.

Think of a cup of coffee. It's either a black coffee, or it has milk and sugar in it. If you say "This cup of coffee contains milk and sugar", and I say "This cup of coffee does NOT contain milk and sugar", you are NOT providing more detail than I am.

If you say "the big bang was caused by an event involving intelligence" and I say "The big bang was caused by an event NOT involving intelligence", you are NOT providing more detail than I am.
It is FALSE that my explanation amounts to refusal to offer an explanation. It is FALSE that you have provided more detail than I have.
Just by using uppercase letters doesn't make your statement true. I'm sure you've seen the fine-tuning thread already going on. There is a good example of a mechanistic explanation provided by McCulloch.
McCulloch wrote: Either it is fine tuned to the exact set of fundamental constants that we observe or it is one of many.
What McCulloch refers to is the multiverse theory.
McCulloch is absolutely right that your proposition is toast if you cannot demonstrate that there is only one universe. That was going to be the next argument I would bring up.
This is a specific mechanistic explanation for fine-tuning.
It's McCulloch's prerogative to skip the first step and argue from the second step. Both routes are equally deadly to your argument.

It's also McCulloch's prerogative to offer a specific mechanism by which the universe might have come into being in the absence of intelligence.\

But I reserve the right to offer details of my hypothesis only when you have offered details of yours. You have admitted previously that you are NOT specifying whether the intelligent involved in the big bang is a single entity, a committee, or an entire village of creators who are not even aware that every time one of them farts a universe is created.

As long as you don't provide any detail beyond the notion that intelligence was present, I don't have to provide any detail beyond the notion that intelligence was absent.
Oliver, I just reread carefully our entire debate, and I simply cannot find any post where you provide an argument for life (and matter, stars, planets) being preferable to non-life.
I don't need to. You already agreed to it. I don't need to argue for something you already agree to.

"It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US"
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 221#650221
Ah, ok. So your position is that the physical constants were fine tuned by human beings?

Lets get this straight:

Human beings who prefer life to non-life exist
They are caused by the universe being conducive to life
That is caused by the physical constants being exactly the way they are
Which is caused by human beings who prefer life to non life.

Is that what you're saying?

Let's go through the timeline one more time:

A few instants before the big bang: Human beings fine-tune the universe according to their preference for life over non-life
The big bang: the singularity explodes
The 13 billion years after the big bang: multiple generation of stars imploding and exploding create elemental variety which can support carbon-based life
A few million years ago: Human beings begin to exist as per the plan they made 13 billion years before starting to exist.

that's your position, right?

OR, maybe, just maybe, could it be that you are presupposing the existence of an intelligent entity OTHER than human beings, present at the big bang?

If so, please present evidence that an entity which prefers life to non life existed at the big bang.
Your argument must look like this:

1) premise
2) premise
3) premise
4) Therefore life was preferable to non-life at the moment of the big bang
5) Therefore an intelligent entity must have existed at that time, and we call that entity God.
Why does it must look like this? At the beginning I said I'd be comparing explanations, which is abductive logic. Though deductive logic is certainly valid, I didn't say that was the approach I was going to use. You agreed at the beginning to abductive logic, not deductive logic. So, if anything, the argument must look like this:

P) Problem statement
E1) Explanation 1 for P
E2) Explanation 2 for P
A1) Arguments for E1
A2) Arguments for E2

E1 explains P better than E2, so E1 is to be preferred.
E2 explains P better than E1, so E2 is to be preferred.
Fine.

So present A1, the arguments for E1. So far you haven't presented a single A1 that wasn't matched by an equally valid A2 for E2, therefore you cannot claim that E1 explains P better than E2, and therefore you cannot claim that E1 is preferred to E2.

As per your general principle, it's not reasonable to believe in an explanation, because there is no more logic and evidence in support of it than for alternatives.

It's really simple: You have admitted that life being preferable to non-life when the physical constants were set, is an implicit premise of your argument. You must demonstrate that life was preferable to non-life at the moment of the big bang, obviously. The preference of humans is totally irrelevant, since they don't show up until 13 billion years later. If you are able to do this, without using any of your conclusions as premises, you have a point. If you don't, you have nothing.

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Post #182

Post by no evidence no belief »

Oliver, I just reread carefully our entire debate, and I simply cannot find any post where you provide an argument for life (and matter, stars, planets) being preferable to non-life.
I don't need to. You already agreed to it. I don't need to argue for something you already agree to.

"It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US"
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 221#650221
I still can't get over how utterly nonsensical your statement above is.

It's based on the same principle as native american's rain dance.

It goes something like this:

1) I prefer the presence of rain to the absence of rain
2) My preference for the presence of rain can do NOTHING to affect whether it actually rains or not
3) Therefore my preference for rain caused the rain.

It's amazing how absurd your position is.

What are we trying to do? We're trying to figure out what caused the physical constants to be the way they are. Whatever it is that caused the physical constants, it CANNOT be something that was caused by the physical constants.

Let's say you're trying to find out who your father is.

Who can we immediately rule out as your father? Who can we immediately rule out as "that which caused you"? YOUR SON. Why? Because if A (your son) was caused by B (you), then B (you) cannot be caused by A (your son).

If A (humanity) was caused by B (the physical constants), then B (the physical constants) cannot be caused by A (humanity).

As much as your son, looking at things in retrospect, might prefer you to have been born rather than not having been born, his preference cannot possibly have had anything to do with your birth.

As much as we, looking at things in retrospect, might prefer for the physical constants to be conducive to life rather than not, our preference cannot possibly have had anything to do with the constants being the way they are.

Please quit stalling. If the physical constants were fine-tuned according to a preference, it must have been according to a preference which manifested itself AT THE TIME THEY WERE FINE-TUNED.

So please argue for life being preferable to non-life at the moment of big bang.

Do not use any of your conclusions as premises.

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Post #183

Post by otseng »

no evidence no belief wrote: If all of humanity was wiped out, and the only trace of our existence that was left were two guitars, one in tune, and one out of tune, and 13 billion years later an alien species were to find those two guitars, they would NOT be able to identify which one the tuned guitar is. Do you understand?
OK, let's pretend we're aliens and come across a perfectly tuned guitar.

We notice that the strings have the following frequencies:
S1 - 82.41 Hz
S2 - 110.00 Hz
S3 - 146.83 Hz
S4 - 196.00 Hz
S5 - 246.94 Hz
S6 - 329.63 Hz

We notice that S6/S1 = 4.000

Hmm, coincidence? Possibly. But, let's look more at the numbers.

It turns out that the frequencies can fit into a simple formula.

Y = X * z^n

Where z = 2^(1/12)

When S2 = S1 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S3 = S2 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S4 = S3 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S5 = S4 * z^n, n = 4.000
When S6 = S5 * z^n, n = 5.000

For a perfectly tuned guitar, n would be precisely a whole integer of either 4 or 5.

This is just by looking at the frequencies of the open strings. If one looks at the frets, one notices that it causes the frequency of each string to increase by a factor of z.

The untuned guitar has no mathematical basis for the frequencies of the strings.

Thus, not only is it possible to determine which guitar is tuned, but one can deduce that the tuned guitar was tuned by an intelligent agent.
no evidence no belief wrote: I can think of several possibilities, all of which fall under one of two different umbrellas:

1) Some kind of unspecified event involving intelligence.

2) Some kind of unspecified event not involving intelligence.

I am in total agreement that we have to try to identify which one of these two types of explanations has more logic and evidence in its support.
I'm not just saying it's an intelligent agent. I'm also saying it's the same agent that created the universe. So, it has the additional properties of being supernatural, timeless, powerful, and creative.
no evidence no belief wrote:As long as we agree that so far every single argument you've attempted failed, then we don't need to rehash the past.

If we don't agree on that, then it's crucial that we sort that out before proceeding.
I'll let readers judge for themselves if my arguments have succeeded or failed.
If you do not provide this link, then I'll just agree to put the topic to rest, with the understanding that you accept my position.
That's not how debates work. You cannot mandate something and then if I don't comply to your wishes then I by default lose the argument, especially if we've already spent multiple pages on those areas already.
This overwhelming empirical evidence that the creator of "more than a woman" was a human being is INDEPENDENT of the song itself. You aren't trying to use the song as evidence of the singer or the singer as evidence of the song.
Actually, I disagree. The song itself is required to know who wrote the song. How can you know who wrote a song if you do not have a tune or the lyrics?
1) All songs are recorded by human beings
2) "More than a woman" is a song
3) Therefore "More than a woman" was recorded by a human being.
My illustration was not if a human being wrote a song. My illustration was to answer the question who wrote the song.
You aren't providing any more detail that I am.
However, I'm not simply saying that the universe is caused by "an unspecified intelligent entity." So, actually, I am providing more details than you are.
McCulloch is absolutely right that your proposition is toast if you cannot demonstrate that there is only one universe. That was going to be the next argument I would bring up.
The only thing we have evidence for is our own universe and not other universes. Do you dispute this?

Do you claim that are other universes? What evidence do you have of those other universes?
You have admitted previously that you are NOT specifying whether the intelligent involved in the big bang is a single entity, a committee
Right, I'm not making any hard claims on that. But, if one is sufficient, there is no need to postulate a committee.
I don't need to. You already agreed to it. I don't need to argue for something you already agree to.

"It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US"
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 221#650221
Ah, ok. So your position is that the physical constants were fine tuned by human beings?
Nope.
OR, maybe, just maybe, could it be that you are presupposing the existence of an intelligent entity OTHER than human beings, present at the big bang?
Not presupposing that either. Again, it is only one of the possible explanations.
So present A1, the arguments for E1. So far you haven't presented a single A1 that wasn't matched by an equally valid A2 for E2, therefore you cannot claim that E1 explains P better than E2, and therefore you cannot claim that E1 is preferred to E2.
If E2 is simply not an intelligent creator, I don't need to to provide A1. As I said before, it is not offering an explanation, but offering what is not an explanation.

If you do provide a specific explanation (like a multiverse), then we can go into comparing those.

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Post #184

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: If all of humanity was wiped out, and the only trace of our existence that was left were two guitars, one in tune, and one out of tune, and 13 billion years later an alien species were to find those two guitars, they would NOT be able to identify which one the tuned guitar is. Do you understand?
OK, let's pretend we're aliens and come across a perfectly tuned guitar.

We notice that the strings have the following frequencies:
S1 - 82.41 Hz
S2 - 110.00 Hz
S3 - 146.83 Hz
S4 - 196.00 Hz
S5 - 246.94 Hz
S6 - 329.63 Hz

We notice that S6/S1 = 4.000

Hmm, coincidence? Possibly. But, let's look more at the numbers.

It turns out that the frequencies can fit into a simple formula.

Y = X * z^n

Where z = 2^(1/12)

When S2 = S1 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S3 = S2 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S4 = S3 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S5 = S4 * z^n, n = 4.000
When S6 = S5 * z^n, n = 5.000

For a perfectly tuned guitar, n would be precisely a whole integer of either 4 or 5.

This is just by looking at the frequencies of the open strings. If one looks at the frets, one notices that it causes the frequency of each string to increase by a factor of z.

The untuned guitar has no mathematical basis for the frequencies of the strings.

Thus, not only is it possible to determine which guitar is tuned, but one can deduce that the tuned guitar was tuned by an intelligent agent.
I'm sorry, but this is a horrible argument.

You're saying that there's underlying mathematical/geometrical rigor to a tuned guitar and there isn't one to an out-of-tune guitar, therefore it's reasonable to assume intelligence was involved in the former and not in the latter.

Please see the 25 highly geometrical things which were NOT created through intelligence, but strictly through mechanistic natural processes.

http://list25.com/25-examples-of-perfec ... in-nature/

I'm sorry but if aliens from a different galaxy saw item 23 and they saw a piece of abstract art, they would assume item 23 was designed by an intelligence and the abstract painting was not.

Look at the amazing complexity of the eye. We know for a fact that intelligence was not involved in it coming into being, and yet it has stupendous complexity and geometry. Your attempt to draw an equivalency between geometry and design fails on its merits in the face of tremendous geometric precision in nature. Case closed.
no evidence no belief wrote: I can think of several possibilities, all of which fall under one of two different umbrellas:

1) Some kind of unspecified event involving intelligence.

2) Some kind of unspecified event not involving intelligence.

I am in total agreement that we have to try to identify which one of these two types of explanations has more logic and evidence in its support.
I'm not just saying it's an intelligent agent. I'm also saying it's the same agent that created the universe.
Me too. I too am saying that the process devoid of intelligence that created the physical constants also created the universe.
So, it has the additional properties of being supernatural, timeless, powerful, and creative.
Me too. My hypothesis has the additional properties of being naturalistic/mechanistic, timeless, powerful, and able to create.

PERFECT symmetry. There isn't a single element of detail to your hypothesis that hasn't been matched by equivalent detail in my hypothesis.

You have absolutely no leg to stand on in demanding that I provide more detail than you do.
no evidence no belief wrote:As long as we agree that so far every single argument you've attempted failed, then we don't need to rehash the past.

If we don't agree on that, then it's crucial that we sort that out before proceeding.
I'll let readers judge for themselves if my arguments have succeeded or failed.
Sure. In those instances where you haven't admitted yourself that your argument failed, then it's left to the readers to make up their own minds.

But if you openly concede that your argument failed in that it is no more an argument for your hypothesis than for its antithesis, then that leaves very little to the imagination, doesn't it?
If you do not provide this link, then I'll just agree to put the topic to rest, with the understanding that you accept my position.
That's not how debates work. You cannot mandate something and then if I don't comply to your wishes then I by default lose the argument, especially if we've already spent multiple pages on those areas already.
I just reread the entire debate. I counted 37 instances in which you promptly linked statements either of us made earlier in the debate. You clearly don't have a problem with doing that.

And yet, I ask you to link a single argument you made which didn't end with a concession from you, with agreement to disagree, or agreement to postpone, and all of a sudden you take a very principled stance against linking previous posts, and somehow end up wasting waaaaaay more of our time than simply providing the link would.

In this, I agree that the readers will have to decide for themselves, so I address this to everybody:

All Oliver has to do is link a previous post in this thread wherein an argument he made didn't end with 1) a concession from him, or 2) an agreement to disagree, or 3) an agreement to postpone discussion of that topic.

If he provides a link to any argument he presented which isn't fine-tuning (which is still ongoing) which didn't fall into one of those 3 categories, I will become a deist. He will have won the debate.

All he has to do is something he's already done THIRTY SEVEN times in this debate.
This overwhelming empirical evidence that the creator of "more than a woman" was a human being is INDEPENDENT of the song itself. You aren't trying to use the song as evidence of the singer or the singer as evidence of the song.
Actually, I disagree. The song itself is required to know who wrote the song. How can you know who wrote a song if you do not have a tune or the lyrics?
To narrow down which specific person wrote the song, you need to have info about the song itself. But to broadly claim that all songs are written by people and that therefore if "Always a woman" is a song, then it was written by a person, you don't need to know specifics of the song.

To try to determine who wrote that song, we have to start by presupposing that a person wrote it. In this case, that is a permitted presupposition, because there is overwhelming, conclusive, irrefutable INDEPENDENT empirical evidence that songs are written by people.

The same cannot be said for the presupposition that a person created the universe and/or the physical constants. We don't have any external independent empirical evidence that people create universes.
1) All songs are recorded by human beings
2) "More than a woman" is a song
3) Therefore "More than a woman" was recorded by a human being.
My illustration was not if a human being wrote a song. My illustration was to answer the question who wrote the song.
I understand that. But the notion that a person wrote it as opposed to the song emerging from nature without the assistance of intelligence, is implicit in the use of the word "who".

Before we can determine who the specific person who wrote it is, we have to verify that it's reasonable to presuppose that a person wrote it in the first place. In this case, the presupposition is valid, because based on extremely strong independent empirical evidence. In the case of the universe, no.
You aren't providing any more detail that I am.
However, I'm not simply saying that the universe is caused by "an unspecified intelligent entity." So, actually, I am providing more details than you are.
Provide ONE detail for your hypothesis that isn't matched by symmetrical equivalent detail for my hypothesis. Provide ONE.
McCulloch is absolutely right that your proposition is toast if you cannot demonstrate that there is only one universe. That was going to be the next argument I would bring up.
The only thing we have evidence for is our own universe and not other universes. Do you dispute this?
Correct. We don't have evidence that other universes exist. We don't have evidence that other universes do NOT exist.

We don't know.

Argument 1

1) We don't know if there is only one universe or if there are many
2) Therefore it's possible that there is only one
3) Therefore fine tuning might be valid

Argument 2

1) We don't know if there is only one universe or if there are many
2) Therefore it's possible that there are many
3) Therefore fine tuning might be dead in the water

Please explain in which way Argument 1 is stronger than argument 2. If you cannot, then by your general principle, your explanation does NOT have more logic support than alternative explanations, and therefore it's not reasonable to believe it.
Do you claim that are other universes?
I do not. I just claim that we don't know if there are other universes or not.
What evidence do you have of those other universes?
We don't have any evidence one way or the other.

Therefore, any argument for there being only one universe would have to start like this:

"We don't have any evidence whatsoever pointing in one direction or the other, we simply don't know, therefore..."

If your wife is pregnant and you don't know if it's a boy or a girl, is it reasonable to therefore conclude that evidence and logic support the notion that it's a boy more than alternatives?
You have admitted previously that you are NOT specifying whether the intelligent involved in the big bang is a single entity, a committee
Right, I'm not making any hard claims on that. But, if one is sufficient, there is no need to postulate a committee.
Fair enough. If a single event without intelligence is sufficient to create the universe, there is no need to postulate a group of events.

Perfect symmetry.
I don't need to. You already agreed to it. I don't need to argue for something you already agree to.

"It's undeniable that life is preferable to non-life to US"
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 221#650221
Ah, ok. So your position is that the physical constants were fine tuned by human beings?
Nope.
Great. So you hereby agree to never ever in your life attempt to implicitly assert that human beings or any other intelligence INSIDE the universe might have had ANYTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with the physical constants being the way they are. Right?
OR, maybe, just maybe, could it be that you are presupposing the existence of an intelligent entity OTHER than human beings, present at the big bang?
Not presupposing that either. Again, it is only one of the possible explanations.
No, it's not one of the possible explanations. If intelligent entities inside the universe must be ruled out as possible causes for the physical constants, then if intelligence is involved at all, it must be intelligence outside the universe.

If intelligence was involved in creating the universe, and if intelligence caused by the universe cannot be considered, then intelligence outside the universe is not "just one" of the possible explanations. It's the ONLY one.

The preference, desires, ability to create, etc of human beings or any other entity which was CAUSED by the physical constants, can never ever ever ever ever be used as an explanation for the physical constants.

Agreed?

If so, please present an argument for intelligence being involved in the physical constants being the way they are. Do not use the preference of entities caused by the constants, and do not use any of your conclusions as premises.
So present A1, the arguments for E1. So far you haven't presented a single A1 that wasn't matched by an equally valid A2 for E2, therefore you cannot claim that E1 explains P better than E2, and therefore you cannot claim that E1 is preferred to E2.
If E2 is simply not an intelligent creator, I don't need to to provide A1. As I said before, it is not offering an explanation, but offering what is not an explanation.
I am offering a very detailed explanation.

The universe was caused by a mechanistic natural event which had the power to cause stuff to begin existing. This event was powerful and arose from a timeless environment.

Please tell me ONE detail you are providing that I am not. Please. Seriously. I am not joking. You have to. Tell me ONE, single, solitary, lonely detail that you are presenting. That I am not.


If you are unable to do that, you thereby fail in arguing that you're providing an hypothesis and I'm just being a contrarian. You have an explanation, I have an explanation. As per the logical structure YOU presented, you have to demonstrate that your explanation is better than mine, and so far every attempt you've made at that, ended in a concession.

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Post #185

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: If all of humanity was wiped out, and the only trace of our existence that was left were two guitars, one in tune, and one out of tune, and 13 billion years later an alien species were to find those two guitars, they would NOT be able to identify which one the tuned guitar is. Do you understand?
OK, let's pretend we're aliens and come across a perfectly tuned guitar.

We notice that the strings have the following frequencies:
S1 - 82.41 Hz
S2 - 110.00 Hz
S3 - 146.83 Hz
S4 - 196.00 Hz
S5 - 246.94 Hz
S6 - 329.63 Hz

We notice that S6/S1 = 4.000

Hmm, coincidence? Possibly. But, let's look more at the numbers.

It turns out that the frequencies can fit into a simple formula.

Y = X * z^n

Where z = 2^(1/12)

When S2 = S1 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S3 = S2 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S4 = S3 * z^n, n = 5.000
When S5 = S4 * z^n, n = 4.000
When S6 = S5 * z^n, n = 5.000

For a perfectly tuned guitar, n would be precisely a whole integer of either 4 or 5.

This is just by looking at the frequencies of the open strings. If one looks at the frets, one notices that it causes the frequency of each string to increase by a factor of z.

The untuned guitar has no mathematical basis for the frequencies of the strings.

Thus, not only is it possible to determine which guitar is tuned, but one can deduce that the tuned guitar was tuned by an intelligent agent.
Not that it's necessary, but I thought of something that is absolutely devastating to the argument you made above.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this your argument:

Guitar 1 is arranged so that the frequency of each string and each fret is based on an extremely simple and symmetrical pattern. This suggests that the tuning of guitar 1 is intentional.

Guitar 2 is arranged so that the frequency of each string and each fret is based on no apparent simple and symmetrical pattern. The numbers seem to be random. If there is some kind of underlying pattern, it's by no means readily apparent. This suggests that the tuning of guitar 2 is NOT intentional.

Never mind that this argument is meaningless. Let's pretend it's valid.

Let's assume that, as per your argument, if the pattern of relationship between numbers is simple and clearly apparent then it's tuned as per an intelligence, and if the pattern of relationship between numbers is complex, confusing and apparently random, then it's NOT tuned as per an intelligence.

If "the frequencies can fit into a simple formula", then intelligence was involved.

If "the frequencies canNOT fit into a simple formula", then intelligence was NOT involved.


Well, let's look at the physical constants.

Clearly, there seems to be no discernible pattern here. These numbers are a complex mess, and seem to be random. Unlike the frequencies of a EADGBE tuned guitar they do NOT, quote, "fit into a simple formula".

If the parameter to establish whether something was fine tuned is that the various numbers "fit into a simple formula" then clearly, the universe was NOT fine tuned.

Such a pity that your argument is actually meaningless and therefore not supportive of any position. Otherwise it would be a great argument against fine tuning.

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Post #186

Post by otseng »

no evidence no belief wrote: You're saying that there's underlying mathematical/geometrical rigor to a tuned guitar and there isn't one to an out-of-tune guitar, therefore it's reasonable to assume intelligence was involved in the former and not in the latter.
It's reasonable to assume intelligence because there is nothing that requires for the strings to have a mathematical relationship. The frequencies of the strings can be a wide range depending on the tension of the strings. There is no mechanistic law that by itself can set all six strings to a pattern.

A pattern is not enough to determine if it's caused by intelligence or not. The key is what are all the possible values that it can have. If there is the possibility that there can be values that have no pattern, but yet it has a pattern, then it can either be ascribed to chance or intelligence.

In the case of fine-tuning, there are only three possible explanations: a mechanistic law, chance, or intelligence. There are no known laws that determines the values of the fundamental constants. Just like the strings on the guitar, there is nothing that says the frequencies must be at frequencies to be able to play music on it. It could be chance that the fundamental constants have the values that they have. But the odds are so astronomical that nobody really even bothers to consider this. Even when we pick up a guitar, if it's perfectly tuned, nobody explains this by chance. We reasonably infer that a perfectly tuned guitar was a result of intelligence.
Please see the 25 highly geometrical things which were NOT created through intelligence, but strictly through mechanistic natural processes.

http://list25.com/25-examples-of-perfec ... in-nature/
Sure. But a pattern, by itself, does not mean if something is caused by intelligence.
Look at the amazing complexity of the eye. We know for a fact that intelligence was not involved in it coming into being, and yet it has stupendous complexity and geometry.
We know for a fact? Actually, I would disagree. There is no evidence that evolution produced the complexity of the eye. You want to explain how evolution explains the origin of the eye?
Me too. I too am saying that the process devoid of intelligence that created the physical constants also created the universe.
Aren't all processes devoid of intelligence? So, how is saying a process devoid of intelligence offering anything more than just saying it's a process?
I'm not just saying it's an intelligent agent. I'm also saying it's the same agent that created the universe.
Me too. I too am saying that the process devoid of intelligence that created the physical constants also created the universe.
So, it has the additional properties of being supernatural, timeless, powerful, and creative.
Me too. My hypothesis has the additional properties of being naturalistic/mechanistic, timeless, powerful, and able to create.

PERFECT symmetry. There isn't a single element of detail to your hypothesis that hasn't been matched by equivalent detail in my hypothesis.
There are some differences, which I've already pointed out. What I'm describing is the classic definition of God. Whereas what you are describing has no definition or term for it and thus unrecognizable as an answer.

By claiming that God is intelligent, it is offering more specifics about the nature of God. Saying a process is not intelligent is not offering anything new.

Also, my successive arguments will be narrowing down on which God it is. You are just saying that it is some process, but have not specified what process it could be.
But if you openly concede that your argument failed in that it is no more an argument for your hypothesis than for its antithesis, then that leaves very little to the imagination, doesn't it?
In regards to origin of the universe, I'm willing to concede our explanations are equivalent since you agree to several points that most atheists would never agree to:

- Methodological naturalism is false. MN is the underpinning of modern science. By you agreeing that it is false, then you reject a fundamental basis of modern science.

- It must be timeless. This is also an assumption by modern science. By rejecting that things operate in time, there can be no scientific model.

- It is outside our universe. This means that naturalism is false.
All Oliver has to do is link a previous post in this thread wherein an argument he made didn't end with 1) a concession from him, or 2) an agreement to disagree, or 3) an agreement to postpone discussion of that topic.
Yes, I have no problem with posting a link. What I do have a problem with is rehashing the same thing over and over again.
We don't have any external independent empirical evidence that people create universes.
Who is saying that a person can create universes? The only thing I'm claiming is God can create universes, not people.
Provide ONE detail for your hypothesis that isn't matched by symmetrical equivalent detail for my hypothesis. Provide ONE.
By saying that God is intelligent, it is providing more detail. Saying a process is not intelligent is not offering anything new. It there any process that does involve intelligence?
Correct. We don't have evidence that other universes exist. We don't have evidence that other universes do NOT exist.
Yet, there is independent arguments that God does exist (origin of the universe for one). So, it is more reasonable to accept God than the existence of other universes.
Please explain in which way Argument 1 is stronger than argument 2. If you cannot, then by your general principle, your explanation does NOT have more logic support than alternative explanations, and therefore it's not reasonable to believe it.
Arguments should rest on what we do know, not on what we do not know. If you do not know something, and there is no evidence either for or against it, then it's not really an explanation for anything.

What we do know that is the existence of our own universe. We do not know that other universes exist. It is thus reasonable to assume that ours is the only one to exist. It might be possible in the future to discover another universe, but we cannot appeal to the future. We can only go by what we know now.
We don't have any evidence one way or the other.
It is thus more reasonable to say that only our universe exists.
If your wife is pregnant and you don't know if it's a boy or a girl, is it reasonable to therefore conclude that evidence and logic support the notion that it's a boy more than alternatives?
For a child, there's only two possibilities - one with a penis and one without.

For a universe, it's not a similar situation. It's not 50% chance there is one universe and 50% chance there are more than one universe.
Ah, ok. So your position is that the physical constants were fine tuned by human beings?
Nope.
Great. So you hereby agree to never ever in your life attempt to implicitly assert that human beings or any other intelligence INSIDE the universe might have had ANYTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with the physical constants being the way they are. Right?
You read more into what was written. I agree that human beings inside the universe had nothing to do with the physical constants being the way that they are.

OK, my time is extremely limited. I'll try to cover the rest later.

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Post #187

Post by no evidence no belief »

otseng wrote:
no evidence no belief wrote: You're saying that there's underlying mathematical/geometrical rigor to a tuned guitar and there isn't one to an out-of-tune guitar, therefore it's reasonable to assume intelligence was involved in the former and not in the latter.
It's reasonable to assume intelligence because there is nothing that requires for the strings to have a mathematical relationship. The frequencies of the strings can be a wide range depending on the tension of the strings. There is no mechanistic law that by itself can set all six strings to a pattern.

A pattern is not enough to determine if it's caused by intelligence or not. The key is what are all the possible values that it can have. If there is the possibility that there can be values that have no pattern, but yet it has a pattern, then it can either be ascribed to chance or intelligence.

In the case of fine-tuning, there are only three possible explanations: a mechanistic law, chance, or intelligence. There are no known laws that determines the values of the fundamental constants. Just like the strings on the guitar, there is nothing that says the frequencies must be at frequencies to be able to play music on it. It could be chance that the fundamental constants have the values that they have. But the odds are so astronomical that nobody really even bothers to consider this. Even when we pick up a guitar, if it's perfectly tuned, nobody explains this by chance. We reasonably infer that a perfectly tuned guitar was a result of intelligence.
Please see the 25 highly geometrical things which were NOT created through intelligence, but strictly through mechanistic natural processes.

http://list25.com/25-examples-of-perfec ... in-nature/
Sure. But a pattern, by itself, does not mean if something is caused by intelligence.
Look at the amazing complexity of the eye. We know for a fact that intelligence was not involved in it coming into being, and yet it has stupendous complexity and geometry.
We know for a fact? Actually, I would disagree. There is no evidence that evolution produced the complexity of the eye. You want to explain how evolution explains the origin of the eye?
Me too. I too am saying that the process devoid of intelligence that created the physical constants also created the universe.
Aren't all processes devoid of intelligence? So, how is saying a process devoid of intelligence offering anything more than just saying it's a process?
I'm not just saying it's an intelligent agent. I'm also saying it's the same agent that created the universe.
Me too. I too am saying that the process devoid of intelligence that created the physical constants also created the universe.
So, it has the additional properties of being supernatural, timeless, powerful, and creative.
Me too. My hypothesis has the additional properties of being naturalistic/mechanistic, timeless, powerful, and able to create.

PERFECT symmetry. There isn't a single element of detail to your hypothesis that hasn't been matched by equivalent detail in my hypothesis.
There are some differences, which I've already pointed out. What I'm describing is the classic definition of God. Whereas what you are describing has no definition or term for it and thus unrecognizable as an answer.

By claiming that God is intelligent, it is offering more specifics about the nature of God. Saying a process is not intelligent is not offering anything new.

Also, my successive arguments will be narrowing down on which God it is. You are just saying that it is some process, but have not specified what process it could be.
But if you openly concede that your argument failed in that it is no more an argument for your hypothesis than for its antithesis, then that leaves very little to the imagination, doesn't it?
In regards to origin of the universe, I'm willing to concede our explanations are equivalent since you agree to several points that most atheists would never agree to:

- Methodological naturalism is false. MN is the underpinning of modern science. By you agreeing that it is false, then you reject a fundamental basis of modern science.

- It must be timeless. This is also an assumption by modern science. By rejecting that things operate in time, there can be no scientific model.

- It is outside our universe. This means that naturalism is false.
All Oliver has to do is link a previous post in this thread wherein an argument he made didn't end with 1) a concession from him, or 2) an agreement to disagree, or 3) an agreement to postpone discussion of that topic.
Yes, I have no problem with posting a link. What I do have a problem with is rehashing the same thing over and over again.
We don't have any external independent empirical evidence that people create universes.
Who is saying that a person can create universes? The only thing I'm claiming is God can create universes, not people.
Provide ONE detail for your hypothesis that isn't matched by symmetrical equivalent detail for my hypothesis. Provide ONE.
By saying that God is intelligent, it is providing more detail. Saying a process is not intelligent is not offering anything new. It there any process that does involve intelligence?
Correct. We don't have evidence that other universes exist. We don't have evidence that other universes do NOT exist.
Yet, there is independent arguments that God does exist (origin of the universe for one). So, it is more reasonable to accept God than the existence of other universes.
Please explain in which way Argument 1 is stronger than argument 2. If you cannot, then by your general principle, your explanation does NOT have more logic support than alternative explanations, and therefore it's not reasonable to believe it.
Arguments should rest on what we do know, not on what we do not know. If you do not know something, and there is no evidence either for or against it, then it's not really an explanation for anything.

What we do know that is the existence of our own universe. We do not know that other universes exist. It is thus reasonable to assume that ours is the only one to exist. It might be possible in the future to discover another universe, but we cannot appeal to the future. We can only go by what we know now.
We don't have any evidence one way or the other.
It is thus more reasonable to say that only our universe exists.
If your wife is pregnant and you don't know if it's a boy or a girl, is it reasonable to therefore conclude that evidence and logic support the notion that it's a boy more than alternatives?
For a child, there's only two possibilities - one with a penis and one without.

For a universe, it's not a similar situation. It's not 50% chance there is one universe and 50% chance there are more than one universe.
Ah, ok. So your position is that the physical constants were fine tuned by human beings?
Nope.
Great. So you hereby agree to never ever in your life attempt to implicitly assert that human beings or any other intelligence INSIDE the universe might have had ANYTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with the physical constants being the way they are. Right?
You read more into what was written. I agree that human beings inside the universe had nothing to do with the physical constants being the way that they are.

OK, my time is extremely limited. I'll try to cover the rest later.
Oliver, I appreciate you finding the time to correspond although you're clearly busy. But I'd ask you to wait to reply until you have time to read my statements carefully and put some thought into your responses.

I'm going to go ahead and ignore what you wrote above because it's scattered, rushed, and half of what you write bespeaks the fact that you didn't quite understand what I was saying. I'm not being condescending and saying you're not smart enough. I just feel you read through what I wrote way too quickly.

I'm ok if it takes you a week or two to reply. But when you do, please put as much effort into it as I do.

Thanks

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Post #188

Post by no evidence no belief »

Hi Oliver, in an effort to make it easier for you to respond, with your limited available time, let me summarize my position.

1) Previous arguments.

In your last post you clearly stated that you have no problem posting links to previous statements from this debate. Your position is reinforced by the fact that you did so 37 times in our debate.

So, in direct alignment with your preference and MO, please go ahead and link ONE argument you made for the deist God which didn't end with a concession from you, an agreement to disagree, an agreement to postpone discussion. Please do that which you already did 37 times, and clearly stated you have no problem with doing.

Dear external readers and observers, can there be ANY doubt that no such link exists if Oliver does ANYTHING other than link it in the next post?

2) Argument from the origin of the universe

What is this? You refer to this argument, but I don't recall you actually formulating it. I'd imagine it would look something like this:

1) The universe began to exist
[other stuff]
Conclusion: God exists

Please present this argument in your next post, or hereby agree to never refer to it tangentially (in a way that implies that it's a valid argument), until you have actually presented it in full.

3) Differences in detail of our two explanations
I asked specifically to name on detail of your explanation (IH) that isn't matched by an equivalent level of detail (where applicable) in my explanation (NIH).

You offered one difference: "What I'm describing is the classic definition of God. Whereas what you are describing has no definition or term for it and thus unrecognizable as an answer."

First, there is a term for my explanation. It is NIH. Secondly, there is a definition for it: "NIH is the proposition that the universe emerged through a mechanistic process in a timeless medium without the involvement of intelligence".

You don't mean that what I describe has no definition or term for it. What you mean is that my concept (definition and term for it provided directly above) are less well known, less popular, than yours.

Now, please explain to me how your argument is NOT an argument from popularity.

The bottom line is this: You are providing an hypothesis with a reasonable amount of detail, I am providing a counter-hypothesis with an equivalent amount of detail. So far, so good.

The next step, according to your general principle, is to balance the evidence and logic in favor of your hypothesis against the evidence and logic in favor of alternatives. If evidence and logic support your hypothesis more than alternatives, it is reasonable to believe in your hypothesis, otherwise IT IS NOT REASONABLE to believe in your hypothesis.

So far, no evidence or logic has been presented which supports your hypothesis more than alternatives, therefore so far IT IS NOT REASONABLE to believe in your hypothesis.

4) Fine tuning
We agree that the wiki definition, which is just a convoluted outline of the principle of causality which connects us to the physical constants, is not an answer, it's a question. The question that it brings forth is this one: What caused the physical constants to be the way they are.

there are two possible answers to this question. If we start from the presupposition that life was not preferable to non-life at the moment of big bang, then nothing more than simple causality is required to explain the fact that the physical constants are the way they are

If we start from the presupposition that life was preferable to non-life at the moment of the big bang, then the argument can be made that the physical constants are the way they are for the purpose of allowing life to emerge.

If the latter is the presupposition that you would like to opt for, I hereby request (for the millionth time) that you support your presupposition. Don't use any of your conclusions as premises.

Preference for life over non-life at the moment of big bang is a necessary premise for your argument. If you cannot back up your position that life was preferable to non life at the time of the big bang WITHOUT using your conclusions as premises, then your argument fails.

5) One universe vs multiple.
The existence of the universe is evidence for the existence of the universe. It is NOT evidence for the existence of other universes, nor is it evidence for the non-existence of other universes. Do you agree?

If I find a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills on the street, that is evidence that there is a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills on the street. It is NOT evidence that there are additional suitcases on the street, nor is it evidence that there are not.

An asteroid hit earth 66 million years ago (and caused extinction of dinosaurs). The big crater it left is evidence that the asteroid hit. It is NOT evidence that another asteroid is going to hit, nor is it evidence that an asteroid is NOT going to hit.

If I get in a car accident, that is evidence that I got in a car accident. It is NOT evidence that I will get into additional car accidents, nor is it evidence that I will not get into additional car accidents.


If you were trying to formulate an argument which was contingent on the non-existence of suitcases full of dollar bills in the street, would the existence of the suitcase you found count as evidence in support of your premise?

If you were making an argument and one of the premises was "An asteroid will never ever hit earth ever in the future", would the fact that an asteroid hit earth count as evidence that no asteroid will hit in the future?

If you were making an argument and one of the premises was that you will not get into a car accident in the future, would the fact that you recently got into a car accident count as evidence in support of your premise?


You are trying to make an argument, and one of the central premises is that no universe exists other than this one. The fact that this universe exists, irrefutably is NOT evidence that other universes do not exist.

You are not just saying "Hey, this is the only universe we can observe, so lets not speculate on whether other universes exist or not". No. You are making the positive claim that other universes do not exist. So please present evidence in support of your positive claim.

Do you have any evidence that no asteroid will hit earth in the future, other than the fact that one hit earth in the past?

Do you have any evidence that no universe exists other than this one, other than the fact that this universe exists?

6) One last thing
You asked me to name one process that involves intelligence, because you claim that all processes are devoid of intelligence, and a process with intelligence involved does not exist.

We are right on the border of troll land, but ok. Here is an example of a process where intelligence is involved:

Me tying my shoelaces.

Wow.

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Post #189

Post by no evidence no belief »

More on the one universe vs multiple universes issue


Oliver, by all means take your time in replying. In the meantime, here are more thoughts on the issue of one universe vs multiple.

Your argument from fine tuning is contingent on no universe existing at any time, anywhere, other than this one. Correct? (if you do not reply with a direct statement to this direct question, I'll assume you agree)

Your argument, in part, would go like this:

1) There is only one universe
2) The chances of the universe being exactly as is are extremely small
3) Therefore God did it


Now, I disagree with this argument, because premise 2 is implicitly contingent on the universe-as-is-being preferable at the time of the big bang to the universe-as-it-is-not. You have not explained how the universe could be preferable at the time of the big bang, without using your conclusion as premise. Nonetheless, let's ignore for now that premise 2 is unjustified, and focus briefly on premise 1.

Question: Which one of these two statements is true?

1) We know that there isn't, never was, never will be any universe other than this one

2) We don't know whether there are or aren't, were or weren't, will be or will not be universes other than this one

Unless you do anything other than start your response to this question by writing the number "1", I'll assume you agree that the correct answer is "2".

If you agree that the correct answer is 2, then you agree that this statement is true: "We don't know if there is only one universe".

Now, explain to me how you can logically go from "We don't know if there is only one universe", to "there is only one universe" (the first premise of your argument in blue above).

We don't know if X is true, therefore X is true.

Do you agree that the argument above is NOT valid (if you answer with anything other than "no", or fail to answer this direct question, I'll assume your answer is yes, and you agree the argument above is invalid)



Let me go back to an analogy we touched upon earlier.

Imagine a guy buys a lottery ticket and wins.

You said earlier that if millions of tickets were being sold and somebody won, then nothing other than statistical inevitability is needed to explain the event, whereas if only one ticket had been sold, you'd think "something fishy" was going on.

I agree with that. Winning the lottery is preferable to not winning it, therefore getting that which you prefer and which is extremely unlikely, with only one attempt, is so unlikely that it bespeaks the involvement of some kind of intelligence.

(Of course, this doesn't apply to the universe, because you have yet to demonstrate that the universe as is was preferable to alternatives at the time of the big bang, but let's ignore that for now.)

Lets go back to our lottery winner. If he is one of millions who bought a ticket, then no intelligence was involved, if he is the only one who bought a ticket, then intelligence may have been involved.

Now, let's say this lottery winner is a retired, disabled, blind and deaf man who never talks to anybody and never leaves the house except this one time when he bought the lottery ticket.

He is of sharp mind, so he is able to contemplate the theoretical possibility that other people may have bought lottery tickets, but because he is disabled, blind and deaf, he has no way of investigating, testing, verifying, ascertaining whether other people bought lottery tickets or not. The only thing he knows is that HE bought a lottery ticket.

Wouldn't it be crazy if he said this: "The ticket I'm holding in my hand is the only one I am aware of, therefore no other ticket was sold, therefore some intelligent entity engineered my winnings"?

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!

If it were true that no universes other than this one exists just because we cannot see it, and that no lottery player exists other than the disabled blind deaf man just because he cannot see then, then it would be true that no lion that is about to eat the ostrich exists, just because by putting its head in the sand, the ostrich cannot see the lion.

You CANNOT logically go from "I don't know if x exists because I cannot see it" to "X does not exists".

If you have an argument contingent on "x does not exists" and all you come up with is "I don't know if X exists", then your argument FAILS.
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Post #190

Post by Danmark »

no evidence no belief wrote: I'm going to go ahead and ignore what you wrote above because it's scattered, rushed, and half of what you write bespeaks the fact that you didn't quite understand what I was saying.... ...please put as much effort into it as I do.
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