Sunday, December 26, 2010

Epistomology by Kent of AvC

This is in response to two recent posts: one by Observer and one by Simon. Now, since at least the beginning of recorded history people have been trying to prove or disprove the existence of God. The results can be summed in two words: They failed. (Simon's recent attempt fall into this category.) If you see a claim of a proof god does or does not exist you can safely ignore it.

One strain of this falls into what is called "Synthetic a priori knowledge", knowledge of the real world obtained by pure thought. This strain was pushed by people like Descartes and Kant.  Descartes got as far as giving an argument that can be used to prove "I exist" everything else may be  figment of my imagination (your use of I and my may vary). Kant's example of synthetic a priori knowledge was Euclidean geometry which ran into problems with general relativity. In general synthetic a priori information does not exist. This includes all proofs of gods existence or non-existence.

Various ways of getting empirical knowledge have been proposed: induction (failed by Hume's argument), verification (a la positivists), falsification and so on. They all have their critics. There is/are various claims that a scientific method does not exist. However, I suggest it does and follows much like Observer's observations.

We have two entities to deal with: observations and models. We make observations and organize them into models (theories, paradigms, world views, etc). Models can not be verified (the failure of induction) or falsified (Duhem-Quine hypotheses). However we can compare models. This is very much in line with what Popper actually said (not the caricature of his work we often encounter).

Knowledge thus consists of model building and testing against observation. We can not say if a model is correct or incorrect but we can say which of two models is better: the one with the best track record of successful predictions for observations. Observer said that the models are fictions. In this he is channeling Einstein who claimed the central ideas in any model are probably wrong (his examples were Newton's fixed space time and the coordinates of general relativity).

Now to the question of does God exist. Simple procedure: construct a model with God and one without God and see if adding God or god increases the ability to make correct predictions. Laplace and Hawkins claim: That hypothesis (god) is unnecessary.

In conclusion: a useful discussion of God's or god's existence must be based on the ability of models containing God to have more predictive power than those without. 

As the raven said: This and nothing more.

Church Of Reality's "Hidden Agenda"

"Everybody has a Hidden Agenda

Does the Church of Reality have a hidden agenda? Do we have a secret plan? What is it we are "really" up to? In an age where everyone is lying about something, what is the Church of Reality really about? Is it politics? Is it world domination? Are we really Satan's minions?

So yeah, we have a plan. We have a plot. We are up to something. But what is it? Is the Church of Reality really going to reveal it? Sure we are!

Would we lie to you?

We are really just trying to trick religious people into thinking.

Our hidden agenda is - we are trying to trick people into thinking. Thinking about reality that is. We believe that if people start thinking about reality that it will cause them to ask themselves if what they believe in is real. Will this undermine faith? It will undermine blind faith. We want to perform a faith healing on faith itself so that the blindly faithful will see again. We want to take the blindness out of blind faith.

Making people think is what we are really up to. Realism is a religion of the mind. You try to resist it but you can't. You can pray and pray and as hard as you try not to - you just can't help it. All of a sudden there you are, thinking. Thinking about reality - reality the way it really is. It seduces you, sucks you in. You start wondering if what you believe is really real. The temptation is too strong to resist. You can feel reality all around you and you can't help but to wonder what it is. And when you are thinking about reality you are becoming real in the sacred moment. And during that time you become one of us.

Resistance is futile. ha ha ha ha ha ... heh."

The above is a direct quote from their terrific site.