Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

Z / Me

Me: I'm with Ben Franklin, who said something to the effect that while he'd concede the possibility, the chances of God existing are so infinitesimally small he's not going to waste his time accounting for it.

Z: Both are beliefs, are they not? Belief in no-God vs. Belief in God? Neither proposition can be established as fact.

Me: But as you know, the burden of proof is on the positive assertion.

Z: A Quotidian Meander rule?

Me: It bears asking, probably--what form do you think God takes? The Bible says we're made in his image, so does that mean he has teeth? Stomach? Lungs? If so we would need to believe that God has to eat and breathe oxygen. Does he exist anywhere?

I think he's a projection of the psyche--I'd call it the "interego," the superego objectified and projected outward. All these people who talk about God are talking about something, after all. They've got the idea, and it appears reasonable to them. So where does the idea come from? To answer the question, I think you merely need to look at the nature of the form the belief takes. For instance, nobody is willing to be pinned down as to what God might look like or where he might be, but they're always eager to specify just exactly what he thinks and what he wants. That much, people just love to explain in great detail. So how could they think they know this so well? I contend that the only way is because it's something in their own heads, part of their own psyche.

I like David Hume's question--he asks, basically, why we would think that the supreme director of the Universe would consist of Mind. Just because we have these organs that think little thoughts and have consciousness doesn't mean that it's any sort of ultimate arrangement.

Z: Who thinks that? Ol' Davy-boy is assuming facts not in evidence.

Somebody once famously said--or was that me?--tell me about the God you don't believe in and I bet I will agree with you.

Apt for all you wrote. I know of no weighting in logic between the propositions, X and Not-X.

Me: But you probably are aware of the weighting in law. [Z is a lawyer.]

Z: Now we're getting somewhere. At least you believe O.J. didn't do it. That's something, at least. Hallelujah!

Duty calls. Need to bow out probably for the rest of the day.

Me: Understood...but I guess that means I get the last word....

X and Not-X may be equivalent in formal logic, but in real life, in pragmatic terms, there are an infinite number of Not-X propositions. That's why I paraphrased Franklin, conceding the possibility while dismissing the probability.

In law, as I understand it, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. "It was Bill who killed Mary" can't just be floated--it has to be reasonably demonstrated that a number of other conditions apply, starting with "Mary is dead." Bill doesn't have to get up every morning and begin his day by proving again that once more, he didn't kill Mary.

Who was it who said that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"? Yet virtually all of the "extraordinary claims" of religions appear to be specifically designed to be un-provable. Throughout history, all religion has ever done is to beat a retreat--as we learn more and more, previous religious claims are discounted one by one, by science, reason, logic, statistics. Religion takes refuge in the un-knowable and the un-proveable. It's not remarkable that I can't prove Not-X; what's remarkable is that virtually every coherent claim of religion is unproveable for Not-X.



The Quotidian Meander


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